Talking Up My Town
Tracy Kennard is the founder of Kennard & Daughters, a brand strategy consultancy for fashion, lifestyle, retail, and creative brands. Four days a week, she moonlights at Brunette, a natural wine bar in downtown Kingston that she and her husband opened three years ago. In 2014, after spending a decade living in New York City/weekending in Kingston, the pair bid a final farewell to re-routed L trains and three-hour brunch lines, and moved into their weekend house, nestled in the woods about 15 minutes from downtown Kingston. Tracy (almost never) looks back. Here is a snapshot of her typical week in Kingston—think of it as an insider’s guide.
Monday | 10am:
I have a meeting at Outdated in Uptown Kingston. Outdated is a cafe and thrift shop where literally everything is for sale. They make all their food in-house, including the sour cherry scone I inhale before my client shows up. It’s my most frequented Uptown business and also my go-to spot for a work meeting because it’s lively and busy enough to anonymously settle into the din of clanking plates and conversation. 11:30am: Because I’m in Uptown, I walk around the corner to Kovo and order lunch to-go (chicken pita with tzatziki and feta and a lemon soup) and head back to work. But not before I have a quick browse at Lovefield Vintage. If you were to gather a sampling of the most stylish gals in Kingston, more than half are likely wearing something from this shop. Lovefield’s owner, Darbie, is meticulous in her selects, so you can find something and walk out the store wearing it...no weird smells, no rips, and no stains that your crossed fingers hope will come out. 6pm: I go for an early dinner at local favorite, Sushi Makio, and then off to the movies at Upstate Films in nearby Woodstock. I’m a monster and finish my popcorn before the trailers end. I consider making a “Just here for the popcorn” tee as the opening credits roll. Upstate theatres are a dream and so civilized (you can show up on time and not worry about not getting a seat, plus drink soda from a can that costs $2!) so we try to go as often as possible.
Tuesday | 8pm:
After making the 6:40am train to Penn Station for my weekly date with New York City, meeting clients, I take the 5:45pm train home. It’s rush hour for us Upstaters, so I have to share my row, but I don’t mind. I get a little work done, but mostly doze for the 40-minute ride North. By 8pm I’m home. Dinner is frozen Roberta’s pizza, arugula from the market, and a glass of sparkling Gamay. (We don’t eat much frozen, convenience food, but these pizzas are so shockingly good that we buy them by the cartful at Tivoli General—a tiny specialty market/bakery/deli that also makes amazing bialys, croissants, bread, and sandwiches.)
Wednesday | 8:30pm:
Work, work, work. Then finally time to head to the Beverly for martinis (gin, up with a twist) and my favorite french fries in Kingston (super skinny, not too salty). Wednesdays are vinyl nights here, which means there’s a good chance one of our friends is manning the turntable.
Thursday | 8:30am:
I’m at Village Coffee, Kingston’s newest coffee shop/cafe. Not sure what draws me here more—the nicest, kindest owners, or their perfectly cooked sunny-side up eggs. 2pm: It’s Thursday, so I head to Hops Petunia to buy fresh flowers for my bar, Brunette. Kelli, who is a floral designer and the owner of Hops Petunia, has poppies, ranunculus and anthurium. I can’t choose between them, so I buy them all. I’m also loving on some peach sweet peas, but will save those for a mid-weekend freshen up. Hops Petunia shares a front door with Clove & Creek and if I’m not at Brunette, chances are I’m cozied up in one of these shops. Clove & Creek is one part home goods, one part kitchen goods, one part book goods, one part gift goods, and one part pantry goods. They have everything you need. Today I need a copper kitchen wire scrubber (one of those things that looks a little bit like a metal scrunchy) and a fancy toothbrush. Also, a coffee for my husband, Jamie, PG Tips tea for me, and a homemade chocolate chip cookie for both of us. I walk down Broadway and stop in at Kingston Wine Co. to say hi to Michael (the owner/dear friend). As a wine bar owner, you’d think I have enough wine in my life, but I never walk out of here empty-handed. Today, I grab a Slovakian pét-nat and make my way down to Brunette to get ready for service.
Friday | 10am:
If you have $30 burning a hole in your pocket and you happen to let me know, I would ask you if your feet are tired and insist you take those tired dogs to Red Lantern Foot Spa. It may be located in a strip mall across from Beer World, but it’s the best value/emergency foot massage this side of the river. I try to go once a month. 11:30am: I’m at Joe Beez, a humble sandwich shop in Midtown Kingston, before the high school rush. I always get the Jerry Garcia (roast beef, horseradish sauce, ‘shrooms), but their menu boasts 60+ sandwich combos and makes for some entertaining reading while you’re waiting. 11:45am: Sandwiches in hand, unidentifiable liquid in thermos, dogs in tow, we head to Kingston Point Park for a quiet lunch on the waterfront. 1pm: Work work (à la Kennard+Daughters) followed by Brunette work.
Saturday | 9am:
Before we opened Brunette, a visit to the farmer’s market was our favorite weekend ritual and now that it’s summer and the produce is extra abundant, we make sure to go every week. Our visits are not as leisurely these days, but we’re still grateful to say hi to and shop our favorite vendors: Dirty Girl Farm for fresh goat cheese; Rusty Plough for fennel; RSK for arugula; Solid Ground Farm for microgreens; and Long Season Farm for radishes. During dahlia season I’ll pick up a couple, but I save most of my flower budget for Hops Petunia. After the market, we stop at Dallas Hot Wieners. DHW is a local family business that’s been around for 90 years. Although they have a full diner-y menu, we never stray from our standing sausage, egg, cheese, and Tabasco sandwiches. If we’re feeling guilty, we throw some market loot arugula on them when we get to the bar, but to be honest, we usually scarf them down while we’re still in the car. 10:30am: Jamie and I head back to Brunette and get the bar ready for service. 11pm: We don’t eat during the day on Saturdays because we’re too busy working, so once the last customer is out the door, we grab a bottle of bubbles and pick up some burgers from The Anchor. The Anchor is a local gem. They make the best burger in town, their kitchen is open until midnight, and they have a dog-friendly patio.
Sunday | 8am:
We get up early and head to the bar to prep for the day. But, not before a stop at Sunrise Bagels where the slogan should be: “Bagels as big as your head.” If you need a meal to last you 10 hours, Sunrise is your spot. I get an egg and cheese on sesame and eat half, saving the rest for later. 9:30am: Sucking down coffee in the parking lot of Patels Lanes. Some of our favorite Kingston business owners (and a few honorary members) have started meeting up to bowl a quick 10 frames before work. Yes, this is beer-free, chicken-finger free, irony-free bowling. And it’s the best way to start a Sunday. Our team is called the Cobras, but a few of us have downgraded ourselves to a sub-team. Name is still tbd, but contenders are the Garter Snakes or the Field Mice. 9pm: The closed sign is on the door, but we’re still at Brunette, hanging out with friends. Jamie runs up the road to pick up pizza, salad, meatballs, and mozzarella sticks from the best pizzeria in town, Tony’s. The blister on my thumb from bowling this morning is almost gone and an after-hours impromptu pizza party is about to begin. The perfect finish to the week.
TRACY KENNARD, KINGSTON NY
Edited by Alyssa D Benjamin | Photography: Matthew Johnson