Memorial Day heralds the beginning of summer, especially in these parts where, for decades, part time residents have come to get out of the city from June until September. For those who live in part time and vacation-residences, this is a weekend for Yard Sales in the morning and opening up the house, complete with beating the rugs and long afternoons dusting off the shelves. For those of us who live here year-round, spring-cleaning has long since happened. This is the weekend when quiet turns to bustle on the main streets of most towns in the Catskills, and we gear up for the season.
There is definitely a bustle at 86 Partition Street in Saugerties, fresh paint on the walls and Big Band music keeping the pace up. Shari Weingarten and Kathleen Smith Honzik, have been making up for lost time busying themselves getting ready to open the doors to their new shop, Light House — Home and Entertaining Essentials. Everything you need to enjoy your home and host others to do the same. It is exciting. There is so much love in the room — almost as if they are blessing each item with camaraderie before it goes home to you. Shari and Kathleen are childhood friends who reunited last year and opening this shop together is more than a labor of love. Their energy together is perfect for the Feng Shui. You want to sit and have tea with them.
Since moving to Woodstock in 5th grade, Shari has found herself more at home in this area than anywhere else. Graduating from Onteora in 1986, Shari went to SUNY Purchase for Music Composition, a classical pianist since elementary school. Shari recognized that her stage fright would limit her chances of taking the talent all the way to a career, and plunged into recording engineering which fast became a love of hers.
In an effort to maintain continuity in her major, she and several other students literally developed a new major — Studio Composition, combining the two disciplines. Being such a new program, it meant different things to different people, but for Shari, it was a way to stay at Purchase, study music and go on to be a recording engineer, which she did until the lifestyle became too much.
“You show up at ten in the morning and work until two in the morning seven days a week. No one should do that for too long.”
Not long after that, Shari found herself teaching for The Culinary Institute Of America. She took a childhood hobby of preparing delicious meals and entertaining at home to providing comfort to innumerable people across the globe as second chair in a program commissioned by US AIR to upgrade its first class food and service program for flights departing from several major U.S. hubs to places like Paris, London and Madrid. She taught eight-course meal service to international flight attendants — with classes ranging from wine pronunciation, to cultural awareness. When asked how she landed a job like that, Shari will tell you, ‘it just happened.’ She has a way of making you feel comfortable and taking a compliment with grace. And it is not difficult to see how she could teach others how to strive for a similar quality. “My mother expected me to study at the CIA since I got French Cooking For Kids and made the family Pork chops at seven years old. She never mentioned it, knowing that I would have balked if it had been at her suggestion, and it never occurred to me.”
At the end of that contract, Shari moved to Florida, and then to Pennsylvania where she worked at Williams Sonoma. “I was a stay at home mother, that job gave me an opportunity to get out of the house. And…I learned everything you could ever want to know about cutlery and cookware! It was the perfect way to be with other adults and spend time doing things I loved.”
In 2005 Shari came home again with her two daughters, 11 year old Evi and Kaia, who is 9. Shari wants them to grow up here, and share the kind of roots that she has held on to. It is easy to come home, “When you are from Woodstock, you don’t really fit in anywhere else in the world. I enjoyed living other places, and sometimes I think it would be good to live in other places again, but nothing is quite like here, it kind of pulls you back. You go away and come back, go and come back, and every time you come home, it’s Woodstock.”
She has been managing and hosting guests at Twin Gables for several years — again, her early education proving to be some of the most valuable in the present as she embarks on providing all the necessities for entertaining.
Last year Shari missed her 25 th High School reunion, but stopped in to the meet and greet on Friday night. In the two hours she was there, she and Kathleen Honzik (known locally as Kathy Smith) reminisced about the old days and found that they have even more in common now than they might have had then. They shared in creating some of their most valuable high school memories, going on to immerse themselves in industries that they each sometimes miss and know they cannot commit to the lifestyle necessary to succeed in. They found out that they shared taste, style and even some skill-sets, leaving just enough contrast to compliment each other as they embark on their new business together, also a shared dream.
Kathleen grew up in Bearsville, went to Woodstock Elementary School and on to Onteora where she also graduated in ’86. Her Aunt, Miriam Smith, was the head of the English Dept, and possibly one of the most influential teachers in Onteora’s history, breaking molds and encouraging not only the obvious talents but also those, like myself, who might have fallen through the cracks without her encouragement.
She had an eye for spotting potential that might not have been noticed. Shari and Kathy both remember her fondly as “Sis.”
Kathleen was one of the people who helped to make up what has become Shari’s large extended “family.” Shari reminds her of the time they went down to Florida when they were 16, to stay with Shari’s grandmother in a condo community like Jerry Seinfeld’s parents’ Del Boca Vista. “Remember? My grandmother thought we were so wild! We were so close, but our lives drifted apart. Who wrote letters? If we had had the internet back then Shari and I never would have lost touch.”
When Kathleen left for college, it was to Boston where she attended Brandeis University, transferring to Florida where she completed her degree in English Literature. Her first job was in marketing for Universal Studios in Orlando where she met her husband on the Universal lot. She left Universal to pursue acting and casting full time. Eventually tiring of the lifestyle, she went back to marketing and began designing websites. They moved from Orlando to Austin, Texas in 2006 and then back to New York in 2010.
Though she might have rather settled with her husband Edward and their two boys, 7-year-old Brendan, and 4 year old Ryan, in Woodstock, the commute seemed too long to the city — Warwick won. Still, Kathleen finds herself driving up the river to her old stomping grounds to visit friends and family (her father Roger and step-mother Joan live in Saugerties), learning new things every time. Last summer, while here for her 25th reunion, she fell in love with the Saugerties lighthouse and like a beacon, it is calling her even closer.
“Growing up here, we never spent much time in Saugerties but it’s a great little town! I didn’t realize there was a lighthouse until last summer. There is just something so special about it — I thought; What a perfect name for the store!”
Upon reuniting, Kathleen has found that, for she and Shari, the same common threads still hold tight. Her dream of opening a shop in Saugerties was matched and made tangible by partnering up. Kathy is a painter, web designer, and marketer and since she and Shari have both also worked in hospitality, Entertainment Essentials seemed the obvious choice.
Kathy and Shari may have gone off to college and lost some touch but it seems that many friendships around here last lifetimes — after no communication for 25 years — they now talk all day and text all night.
They are like two little girls setting up for a very spectacular tea party. Shopping the catalogues, painting display cases and stocking shelves with the kind of items that will surely have appreciators popping in regularly to see what’s new on the shelves.
One of the best parts — they are committed to sourcing many of their products locally, like honey from bees down in Warwick to local pottery. Interestingly, they are having a more difficult time than they expected finding products from close by. Consider this an unofficial call out for local ceramicists, designers and artisans: Come see how you can fit your work into this delicious shop.
“Light House” carries unique home and entertaining essentials and boy do Shari and Kathleen share beautiful taste! Throughout my time with the two of them, the conversation shifts to product line, and little things happening on the shelves that Shari just painted. Boxes are being opened, and it feels like Christmas morning. Le Creuset, All-Clad, Hen House Linens, La Rochere glassware, Iittala Dishware make up some of their inventory. I feel pretty lucky for my sneak preview and am left still thinking about those bath salts and that incredibly scented candle that is not only vegan and all natural, but will be priced so that we can all join the delicious smelling candle craze without spending $50 to get there.
If you are looking to fancy up your summer cottage this Memorial day, stop in to the Light House, meet these two lifelong childhood friends. By Monday, when the BBQ grills are cleaned up and running well, and it’s time for the guests to arrive, you will want some of what they’ve got!
I can’t stop thinking about those cloth napkins. ++
Light House is located at 86 Partition Street, next to Miss Lucy’s and across from Dig, in Saugerties. Shari and Kathleen will be there all weekend for a “soft” Opening, the Grand Opening soon to come.