Leyla Kiosse’s vision for The Yard Hatchet House & Bar sprung from her contempt for winter. “I do not enjoy the cold, snow or winter sports in general, so living in Upstate New York during the winter months is tough for me,” says the owner of the Albany hotspot (pun intended). “I wanted to figure out a way to enjoy the things we love about summer—greenspace, outdoor activities, hanging out in the backyard—even during the winter.” So in January 2020, two months before COVID hit and eventually sparked a hot new market for private spaces like her greenhouses, Kiosse opened The Yard. Her slightly-ahead-of-its-time bar boasts ax-throwing, eight indoor lawn games, Boozy Moo! (Kiosse’s brand of alcohol-infused ice cream)—and those greenhouses, three very-Instagrammable private party spots that customers can rent for a picture-perfect night on the town.
“My greenhouses were a pre-COVID idea, although COVID accelerated the need for them and forced me to think about how I could make them more appealing,” Kiosse says. “Initially I thought about a basic space for outdoor seating in the winter, but then I realized that in a world of utter deprivation, people were really craving experiences.” So Kiosse christened her greenhouses with themes, designing last winter’s spaces, as well as two of this year’s (“Under the Sea” and an Alice-worthy “Wonderland”), herself. To complete the “experience,” each reservation includes an exclusive cocktail menu that Kiosse created for that greenhouse’s theme. For the 2021-22 season’s third greenhouse, she turned to social media to throw a “Pimp the Greenhouse” competition last fall, which called on those who “have what it takes” to submit mood boards for the greenhouse theme they’d like to bring to fruition. Then, The Yard’s Instagram followers voted on their favorite theme, and the winner (Ashley Salvadore) received a budget to turn her idea (“Barbie World”) into a reality.
“The community loves the greenhouses,” Kiosse says of the cozy, heated structures. “They’re very popular, especially in the height of winter. The first season we ran the greenhouses they sold out every weekend two weeks in advance.” This year, greenhouse season runs through mid-May. That means, yes: You still have time to book your unforgettable Friday-night Barbie bash.