A special summer in Downtown Janesville

Mural of Chief Blackhawk and Miracle by Jeff Henriquez.

Mural of Chief Blackhawk and Miracle by Jeff Henriquez.

Summer is my favorite season at Lark. Maybe it’s because we opened in July, so this is our third summer downtown.

When the weather cooperates, we set tables out on the front sidewalk.  It’s fun to see how crowds of friends start gathering and chairs keep getting added until we have about 10 people happily sitting around a table for four, laughing and having a great time.

Tuesdays are special because of the Music at the Marv concert series all summer. We’re outside grilling burgers, brats and sandwiches. The friendly family vibe on Tuesdays at Lower Courthouse Park is something special. A big shout-out to the City of Janesville and Downtown Janesville, Inc., for this great and growing tradition. We love that we get to look out on the scene for the Beloit Janesville Symphony Orchestra’s July 3rd show, too. And, then, in the winter we can watch the Jolly Jingle parade and tree lighting ceremony. The Marvin Roth Pavilion was a big reason we located Lark where it is and we’re happy to see it being used by the community.

That said, we did have to change our plans for celebrating our second anniversary. Lark in the Park was a big success last year (we had three times the attendance we expected, which led to some regrettably long lines). But we are no longer able to close our block of Main Street for events and because the park is not an “extension of premise” we can’t serve alcohol outside if we host something at the Marv. That just makes the economics unworkable for us so, unfortunately, we won’t be celebrating our second anniversary with a party in the park.

We will, however, be celebrating with a special Spanish Dinner on Thursday, July 25. It will feature a variety of tapas and wines that Richard and I sampled last fall on our trip to Northern Spain. We’re really excited about this dinner as Spanish cuisine isn’t readily available outside of Milwaukee and Chicago.

And the last couple weeks have been nothing short of amazing. Watching Jeff Henriquez work on the gorgeous Blackhawk mural just down the street was the experience of a lifetime. That he stopped by and ate at our place a couple times made it even more special. What an amazing artist and person. We miss him already. Thanks to Nigella Ryan for this beautiful gift to the city.

Then there was the Towne Square Gran Prix, which was even bigger and better than last year. We had a bit of déjà vu as we crouched underneath our tents, holding them down as the wind howled and the rain came down in buckets mid-afternoon. But then the sun came out, so did the crowds, and we ended the day exhausted and exhilarated. Thanks to all the volunteers and organizers. We can’t wait for next year.

We also entered into a fun partnership with Rotary Botanical Gardens to teach a botanical cocktail class with a tour of the herb garden led by horticulturalist extraordinaire Mark Dwyer. We’ve got one more botanical class coming up in July. The first class was a blast and we met a lot of new people who will hopefully stop by the bar for more lessons with Billy.

What a great summer so far and it’s only just begun.

Joan Neeno