PENN YAN — Teresa Hoban has worked for poultry companies. She became a chiropractor and taught at New York Chiropractic College.
It’s her latest gig as owner of Hoban’s Spirits in downtown Penn Yan, however, that has her smiling from ear to ear.
“If I had known this was so much fun, I might have done it first,” she said with a laugh.
Last December, Hoban bought the longtime store from Raymond Knafo, one of Penn Yan’s most colorful characters. Known for decades as Landmark Wine & Spirits, it is the anchor store in Struble’s Arcade, a historic building that is in line for $1.4 million in Downtown Revitalization Initiative funding.
It’s a building Hoban, a 1981 Penn Yan Academy graduate, knows well. Her father, Bob, had an office in the building.
“I remember stopping in and seeing him,” said Hoban of her dad, a former Notre Dame football player, well-known local engineer, Village Board member, county legislator and chairman of the Penn Yan Municipal Utilities Board who passed away several years ago. “In hearing some of the history of this building ... I heard in the back of the building a Hoban used to run like an Uber with horse and carriages, sort of a delivery system. I can’t confirm that, but we do have a history with this building.”
After high school, Hoban studied agricultural economics at SUNY Farmingdale and the University of Georgia. She worked at several poultry companies in the Southeast before moving to Perdue Farms in Delaware for several years.
“Even though I really liked what I did at Perdue, it was tough to move up the management chain,” she said. “I got to work at 5:30 in the morning and left at 7 at night, but everybody was there before I was and left after I left.”
Hoban returned to the Finger Lakes and enrolled at New York Chiropractic College in Seneca Falls. She started a chiropractic practice in Syracuse, which she ran for about 10 years, and another in Penn Yan that is still going strong after 20 years. She later taught business courses at the chiropractic college for about five years.
“I decided academia wasn’t for me,” she said.
Hoban concentrated on her Penn Yan chiropractic practice, which was on Lake Street, but always had an interest in Landmark Wine & Spirits and Struble’s Arcade, which Knafo had owned since the 1970s.
“I get bored easily,” she said with a laugh. “Seeing patients is great. I love it, but when this opportunity came up I talked to Mr. Knafo on a Saturday, talked to my family, and put an offer in Monday.”
At the time, Hoban was with her friend, Jennie Joiner, an English professor at Keuka College — and a former Professor of the Year at the Yates County school. Joiner, who chairs the college’s Humanities and Fine Arts division, had just bought a couch from another longtime Main Street business, Cole’s Furniture.
“She bought a couch. I bought a building — and a business,” Hoban said.
Hoban didn’t know then that the building had been targeted for DRI funds, money that hinged on Hoban obtaining a liquor license. That happened pretty quickly due to people including Steve Griffin, Yates County’s economic developers, state Sen. Tom O’Mara, Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, and several of Hoban’s friends.
“I may still be waiting for the liquor license, but the DRI came up,” she said. “It was getting to be crunch time and we had to call in some favors. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without those folks.”
Hoban’s first goal was to overhaul the store’s interior, including the removal of old carpets and installation of new wood floors. There is a main room for spirits and wine, and a room devoted to Finger Lakes and New York wines.
“It’s glorious now. People who have been here before are stunned at how nice it is,” she said. “We have a friendly atmosphere with a TV, and we come around the counter and help people. I’m very big into customer service.”
Next to Hoban’s Spirits is a new bakery, Sabrina’s Bake Shoppe; Hoban is the landlord, with the building officially owned by Hoban Enterprises. The rest of the ground floor includes Hoban’s chiropractic office, rented office space, and a small room for a Rochester artist. Future plans include renovation of the top floors into apartments.
Hoban will have to line up $2.8 million in financing before the state contributes its $1.4 million toward work at the 150-year-old building.
“Even though the DRI grant is phenomenal, it’s an awesome responsibility to use that grant wisely,” she said. “Yes, the building is mine, but there is sense of ownership from the community. People are happy it will be fixed up.”