Kendall Murphy (left) and Lisa Malinovskaya (right) created something beautiful with their tavern in Lake City.
Kendall Murphy (left) and Lisa Malinovskaya (right) created something beautiful with their tavern in Lake City. Lester Black

Korochka is no more. The Russian-themed bar suddenly closed for good this weekend after lease negotiations failed with Korochka's landlord. The Lake City bar’s last drink was poured at 2 a.m. this morning.

Kendall Murphy, who co-owns the bar with Lisa Malinovskaya, told me Sunday that they were negotiating a new lease when they got a message at 2 a.m. last Tuesday from their landlord that their lease was terminated.

“We were in the process of re-signing a lease and so we didn’t have a lease and then it didn’t just work out,” Murphy said. “It’s just so heartbreaking.”

This is a big loss for Lake City. Korochka opened in 2016 and quickly became a Lake City favorite known for its cocktails, beer, dumplings, pickles, and permanently friendly demeanor. But this may not be the end of Korochka’s story. Murphy told me they were already planning on opening a new satellite bar in Wallingford before getting kicked out of their Lake City space, and they’re now immediately moving ahead with those plans.

“We were already in the process of trying to start a second bar in Wallingford so we have been discussing with a landlord over there,” Murphy said. “We haven’t signed anything yet but we have been discussing leases.”

Murphy said the sudden closure is straining the woman-owned-and-run business’s finances, so they started a GoFundMe page asking for donations. “We weren’t ready for a sudden change,” Murphy said. “If we can get money, we can open up so much faster.”

Meg van Huygen wrote about the bar’s Russian food, inventive cocktails, and “cozy, unpretentious chill” for our newspaper earlier this summer. Like van Huygen, I also accidentally discovered Korochka and immediately loved it. It’s rare to find a themed bar with a bear rug on the wall that is also somehow without affectation. Murphy and Malinovskaya are more known for their cocktails but they have fantastic taste in beer and served one of the best small tap lists in the city.

Lester Black

The bar’s name comes from the nickname Malinsovskaya’s mom gave her for being a stubborn kid. It means “heel of the bread.” Malinsovskaya and Murphy met each other at Shoreline Community College when they were 16 and have been best friends since. Murphy said it’s painful to leave Lake City.

“Lisa and I love this community. I met my fiancé here, he works at the Backdoor Pub next door,” Murphy said. “There are so many small business owners here who are so supportive and having to leave it is devastating.”

Korochka had the rare feel of a true tavern. You could experience the same communal warmth if you walked in with ten friends or pulled up a barstool by yourself.

Korochka also has one of the strongest windows in the city. I was once sitting at the bar late on a Friday night when Malinsovksaya politely kicked an unruly patron out. The man proceeded to exit the bar, pick up an unlocked bicycle sitting nearby, and throw the bicycle frame as hard as he could against the bar's front window. The glass briefly appeared to bend backwards but then righted itself without apparently a single crack forming. It was incredible. Everyone sitting in the bar was immediately friends after that moment, bound by a fear of flying bicycles and an appreciation for strong glass. Korochka is was a great pub.

Murphy said if they are able to raise enough money they may be able to open their new Wallingford location in January or February.