What's to become of all the co-working spaces? Here in the city, cramped offices feel outdated, The Wing seems officially past its prime, and with so many high-earning entrepreneurs and social-sceners having the means to get out of town, even hot spots like Soho House and Spring Place are over. At least for now.
But just outside Manhattan, where the air is a little fresher and the population a little less dense, the want for creative community and connection is booming. For the New York lifers who aren't quite L.A. or Miami types, destinations like Hudson Valley and the Catskills have been the go-to escapes, especially over the past year. The result has been a half-exodus of West Village and Williamsburg millennials, who can exhale in their rustic-chic surroundings half the time, and still be a couple hours' drive from the city.
And whether they're opting for extended rentals or property purchases, the cool kids with urban sensibilities are still seeking comfortable co-working spots, either to settle in for a day's work with their laptop and a stronger wifi connection than their Airbnb provides, or to socialize and meet new people - albeit with a mask on.
Enter Barnfox, the hybrid solution.
"Barnfox was born out of a passion to create beautiful work and community spaces that would allow more people to get away from the city to work [and] live in getaway destinations," says co-founder, Frederick Pikovsky. "We envision a world in which people can work from anywhere to spend more time in the outdoors, and support local communities."
Pikovsky, an entrepreneur who had hustled in the city for 10 years and opened one of Brooklyn's very first co-working spaces, explains, "I found myself completely burned out from the pace of the city and lusting for weekends to getaway. I wanted to spend more time exploring small towns, sleeping in cabins, going on hikes and generally living a lifestyle that was more connected to my surroundings."
After writing a whole book about this widespread desire to return to the land, he connected with his founding partner Tim Tedesco through a Facebook roommate listing. Within hours of meeting, they bonded over their shared love of upstate New York and six months later, they bought and built their own property in the Catskills and "organically realized the concept of Barnfox along the way."
Originally launched in Hudson in February 2020, just weeks before lockdown, the weekend-minded work retreat soon saw an influx of New Yorkers who semi-permanently moved upstate. Membership was in demand, and the concept evolved; even with COVID restrictions in place, the outdoors allowed for naturally socially-distanced fun. "We spent the summer organizing a lot of cycling, hiking, and kayaking gatherings in the outdoors. Basically, adult camp life," says Pikovsky.
In October, they launched the second Barnfox outpost in Kingston, and currently have a third location, in Livingston Manor, in the works.
For now, the two outposts offer chic and modern environments, all bright airy spaces and cozy mid-century furnishings, for working, networking, or just hanging out. Amenities include conference rooms and sound-proof booths, long shiny bars with complimentary coffee and kombucha on tap, and even member discounts for local hotels and accommodations. In addition to bringing together like-minded creatives and professionals from different industries, the Barnfox philosophy extends to supporting local small businesses, the community, and sustainability.
For the wave of New York City escapees, there's no place better for an après-hike conference call or pre-Zoom coffee. And you might even make a few friends to go kayaking with.
[Photos courtesy Barnfox]