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Katy LaJuett

Chesire Cocktail Bar

Interview No. 31

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"It's a city that can crumble, but also rebuild. That's what is the coolest about it, even though it's got it's issues. We are in a city that tries new things."

What part of Rochester are you from?

Originally I am from Spencerport, but I currently live smack dab between Park Ave and Monroe Ave on Harvard. It's kind of nice because you can get to all the restaurants and bars that are on Monroe, and then I can also walk over to all the little shops like Parkleigh or Lakeshore Records on Park.

What is your favorite part of living in Rochester?

I like that my day-to-day changes. One night I can go to a Hockey game, and the next I can go to a secret prohibition-style bar in the middle of the South Wedge. And then I can still go to a low-key dive bar, and the next day go to a little local restaurant.

Do you have any favorite or secret spots in Rochester?

(laughing) Yea, we're at one! I chose this spot because it is kind of secret. I mean, there are no signs or anything for Chesire, and I heard about it from word of mouth. It's not like I saw an article or anything about it. This is probably one of my favorites, and then, I don't know, I feel like all my favorite spots that were once secret are not anymore. They were secret when I was in high school, and now at this point they're not. As I get older, I realize they are not so secret. So I guess this is my favorite "secret."

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Do you have a favorite day of the week?

I weirdly like Sunday, because I feel like Saturday is always wasted. I'm just coming off of working, so Saturday I sleep in and I'm kind of lazy. Sundays I am kind of lazy too, I'll be real (laughing). But I don't know, Sunday is cool. I feel like I do more on Sunday. Do stupid little things, and I like going to shitty little diners. I shouldn't say shitty! But I like going to low-key diners, that literally have a whole meal for like $3. That's kind of my thing. I am actually kind of annoyed, because there was this kind of secret, but not really a secret, place that I liked that closed recently. It was Jim's Diner, and it was literally right around the corner from Wegmans on East Ave. It was over on Winton, and it weirdly closed! So, that was kind of a secret spot. So secret that it didn't make enough to keep the business running. Maybe they are rebuilding. I hope they are rebuilding because that place was awesome.

Do you have a favorite neighborhood?

Definitely the South Wedge. I was actually reading up on the South Wedge a few day ago, because I was kind of curious, and it was saying how back in the1800's, the South Wedge was like, "the place to be." Frederick Douglas lived on South Ave. And I guess in the 70's it sort of went downhill and went to shit. But now it is totally flipping, and I guess it's ranked something like the quickest growing New York residence, other than New York City, in all of New York state, which is pretty cool.

Favorite bar?

The one is hard. I feel like I have different bars I like for different reasons. My favorite, low-key bar, is Acme. Maybe it's because it's super close to my apartment, but I like Acme as a little dive bar. Then obviously I like Cheshire as a cocktail bar and for specialty drinks. As a bar to hang out with friends, I like either Half Pint or Lux. If I'm with a small group of people, I like Half Pint. If I'm with a big group of people, I like Lux.

Favorite hangover spot?

Previously Jim's Diner. I guess, Charlie's Frog Pond. They have a nice mimosa to give you the hair of the dog (laughing). I like Frog Pond a lot. They have really good breakfast food, like probably the best breakfast food, I'll be real.

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It's a city that can crumble, but also rebuild. That's what is the coolest about it, even though it's got it's issues. We are a city that tries new things.

What is your personal coping mechanism for the cold or gray weather?

Usually the cold and gray weather happens during the holidays, and I like throwing holiday parties. So I guess parties. I like throwing house parties (laughing). I like to surround myself by people that I like. And taking pictures.

What do you think makes Rochester unique?

When I was doing a little bit of research on the South Wedge, it reminded me that even though it's just one area of the city, it reminded me of Rochester itself. In a way, it almost sounds kind of cheesy, but it's like a phoenix.  It burns itself out, and then rises from the ashes. We went through the whole phase where we were "The Flour City," and we were pumping out the most flour out of anywhere else in the United States. And then the city had things die off. Kodak rose and then died, and now I feel like we are at a point where all these small business are starting to take over, which is cool. We are actually getting a lot more smaller businesses, and it's not just one giant business like Kodak. It's a city that can crumble, but also rebuild. That is what is the coolest about it, even though it's got it's issues. We are in a city that tries new things.

What do you think could be improved in Rochester?

I think there is a pretty big disconnect with the Northwest, Northeast, even the Southwest. I think it's called the 'impoverished crescent' of the city, which is sad. We are a city that when our communities come together, it creates something awesome. In the South Wedge, the communities came together when it fell apart, and now one of the most up-and-coming areas in NY. So it's sad to see that ¾ of our city is like that. Right around the corner is failing and falling apart and impoverished.

If Rochester were a season, which season would it be?

It would be Spring. Just because it will always rise again and regrow and be reborn.

Rochester has lots of Festivals, we have our whole Festival Season and its coming up! Do you have a favorite?

Probably the Lilac Festival. I like it because there are so many vendors. There are bands that play, and then it's cool because it's right when the lilacs are blooming, and that always reminds me of home.

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I've known Katy LaJuett and Julie Adner since high school, and both are avid Rochester explorers and advocates for all the cool things the city as to offer. Read more of Katy's perspective on our Instagram.

Interview by Julie Adner.