Hannah Black and Carla Perez Gallardo both worked on the New York restaurant circuit at the same time as trying to establish an art practice. Struggling to find their niche in the narrow confines of the city’s art scene, they soon found themselves in Hudson. Home to a tight-knit community with an open-minded atmosphere, it proved the perfect place to freely combine their passion for food and art in one creative endeavour. Their story illustrates that the move to a smaller town is not always driven by a desire to reconnect with nature. For them, the appeal was the creative freedom and the ability to thrive independently outside of larger systems on a smaller budget.
The full interview was originally featured in our publication City Quitters, which portrays creative pioneers pursuing alternative ways of living and working away from big cities.
Hudson, USA – What brought you to Hudson?
CARLA PEREZ-GALLARDO: I landed in Hudson when I came back from Madrid, where I lived for a year after college. Hudson was more accessible than New York City, and I felt like there was room for me to do what I wanted to do. The community here is made up of a lot of people who try to find their way outside of the norm. I felt potential in Hudson, which is why I stayed.
HANNAH BLACK: I moved to New York after college because that’s where everybody went. It was the centre of the art world. I lived there for 5 years and worked in various jobs. I loved it, but I also kept questioning if this was really where I wanted to be. Then my best friend from college moved to Hudson. I came to visit her a lot and just had the best time. Her community in Hudson was all doers, whereas I felt like my community in New York was full of planners or talkers.
I went to South America for 6 months and got really into this idea of wanting to work with food. When I came back, I moved to Hudson. It just made a lot of sense – it was easy. I started running a food truck, and that’s when I met Carla. We did catering projects together and eventually opened a restaurant, which never would have been possible in New York unless we had some big investors. It all happened very fast and serendipitously.
When did you open your restaurant?
HB: About a year and a half ago. We had saved some money from catering, and had a little bit of help from family and friends, but it was so low budget. And we did it in a month.
CP: It felt very much about Hudson, you know. Being able to put together this passion project that, just a year and a half later, is a very real business that’s thriving in many ways.
HB: When we were doing the demolition and the construction we were able to call upon this crew of friends who not only had skills, creativity and vision but also the freedom to jump on board our project. We didn’t have money to pay them, we just offered them free food. But they had the time to come in and help us renovate the space. We couldn’t have done that in the city. All my friends there are working three jobs and would never do anything for free.