Is Church Avenue the next Cortelyou Road?

Is Church Avenue the next Cortelyou Road?
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

A hip new Ditmas Park cafe is bringing a bit of Cortelyou Road style to a stretch of Church Avenue known more for budget-friendly shopping than posh coffeehouses.

Lark Cafe opened last Friday between Stratford Road and East 10th Street — an area that boasts a captive but under-served audience of latte-craving parents, as well as java-drinking students and freelancers, who go wild for Stumptown Coffee, Dough donuts, Bagel Hole bagels, and Blue Marble ice cream, the owners say.

“Our initial idea was to have a community space where kids would play but then we decided to add the cafe part,” said Kari Browne, one half of the mom-duo that owns the joint. “We love good food, and coffee and drinks, but also wanted to create a place that is family-friendly.”

At least on opening day, the cafe was certainly fulfilling that objective. Moms parked strollers around the wood tables — circular so they’re totally free of sharp edges — while their children ate cupcakes and ran around the cafe.

The owners have set aside an adjoining room for child-friendly events, like arts classes, birthday parties, or the kids yoga session they held on opening day.

Browne and co-owner Lori Kranczer — who are both mothers of two kids under five — met after posting similar ideas about the lack of child-centric spaces in the neighborhood on two message boards for families in the area. And they hope Lark Cafe will bring a different style to Church Avenue.

“Church Avenue was not an obvious place to be looking because there’s not that much else here, but I thought we’d give it a try and be pioneers,” said Browne, whose cafe occupies a storefront next door to the newly opened eatery AM Thai Bistro. “I think the whole strip will probably change quickly — and hopefully we’ll be an anchor.”

The thoroughfare is lined with bodegas and budget-friendly shopping destinations like 99 Cent City and Bobby’s department store, and some neighbors say the cafe could be a harbinger of more changes to come.

“Overall Brooklyn is changing because of stuff like this,” said Shawnette George, 22, a Brooklyn College student who grew up in the area. “This area is kind of in between, and on one hand gentrification means a lot of people get pushed out and rent goes up, but something like this also gives the kids around here something else besides corner stores and chicken spots.”

Ditmas Park parents say they’re excited to have a new place to bring their kids.

“There are a lot of kids in this area but not a lot of places to hang out and sit with them,” said Matt Brown, who was in the cafe with his toddler. “It’ll be a good place to come and meet up with other moms, dads, and babies.”

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.