Lark Cafe on Church Avenue

Is Church Avenue the next Cortelyou Road?

The Brooklyn Paper
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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 or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at
Updated 5:34 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

John from Ditmas Park West says:
Coney Island Avenue, from Newkirk to
the Park, needs a jolt of energy. Please let it be next.
July 17, 2012, 9:29 pm
bkdude64 says:
This is an anti-hipster post waiting to happen. Im going to control myself wont say a word. :)
July 17, 2012, 10:34 pm
Jack from West Midwood says:
Guess what neighborhood this is in? Not Ditmas Park. Not even in the "Ditmas Park" that most ignorant people call Cortelyou road. If you want to write an article, at least write an informed article. ;)
July 19, 2012, 8:44 pm
Joe from Ditmas Park says:
Jack -- Are you Mary Kay Gallagher's son or something? You want us to use some obscure "neighborhood" designation like "Caton Park" to describe this location instead? (Like West Midwood) Or would you prefer the unspecific "Flatbush" ?
July 20, 2012, 4:55 pm
old time brooklyn from slope says:
well the muffins on the ladies look tasty so that is a good start for sure!!
July 21, 2012, 9:48 am
old time brooklyn from slope says:
I was always flatbush - not ditmas park etc - the flatbush city hall is a block or two away.
July 21, 2012, 9:49 am
old time brooklyn from slope says:
it is Flatbush and well within its boundaries - one of the original towns of Brooklyn - not ditmas park, caton heights or some other marketed name
July 21, 2012, 9:51 am
Flora from Windsor Terrace says:
From the 1600's Flatbush was a city unto itself before incorporation in the 1800's- there were many smaller towns within it. The one under discussion is Victorian-era Prospect Park South. (More Victorians than anywhere else in the country!)
July 24, 2012, 7:32 pm
Child of Brooklyn from East Flatbust says:
Gentrification, disguised as anything still gentrification. It is sad and unfortunate for the great amount of people it negatively affects (typically people of color). I'm sure the "moms and kids" that this establishment intended to attract is not those whose families have lived in the community all these years, and have shopped in "budget-friendly" stores.

July 29, 2012, 8:54 am
someone from pps says:
@ child of brooklyn - Yes, this neighborhood is quickly gentrifying and that is not necessarily a good thing- bring that up with our mayor and city council and whoever else can do something about affordable housing. I've lived around the corner from the Lark storefront for three years- that stretch of Church can use more commercial activity and foot traffic. ANY kind of store or restaurant is welcome- that it's a coffee shop is just an extra bonus to me. If you're so disappointed, then open a business you'd like to see in one of those empty storefronts.
Aug. 6, 2012, 3:53 pm

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