Gravitas Summer 15

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36 | GRAVITAS MAGAZINE She Said Chris and Kirk Voelker Co-owners State Street Eating House + Cocktails One of the first things you notice when you meet Dr. Kirk Voelker and his wife, Chris, are the genuine love and admiration they have for each other. Kirk, a successful pulmonary physician, and Chris, co-owners of one of the swankiest lounges in downtown Sarasota, first met in Southern California before moving to Sarasota in 1996. Their shared love and admiration for working together launched a side passion in renovating homes and then in 2012, they decided to jump into the volatile restaurant business by opening State Street. The restaurant, a mix of industrial chic with taxidermy accents, cozy sofas and intimate spaces, reflects the passion of a couple who created much of the interior space by hand. Meeting them one late spring afternoon inside the hip downtown eatery revealed a couple who doesn't sweat the small stuff, admits they've only had two fights in their 17- year marriage, and readily shares their secrets to happiness. How did you first meet? She Said We met through friends in Southern California. Kirk was completing a fellowship and we happened to be invited to the same party. Kirk, as typical of him, was helping out. The night before he had gone to drop off some food and beverages for the party, which was going to be on Saturday. He was leaving the house and I was coming to help too, I guess. We didn't know each other and my girlfriend kind of yelled out to me, "Hey, have you met Dr. Kirk?' I said, "Met him? Are you kidding? We're engaged!' He Said It was one of those parties where you bring somebody who you are not involved with, a friend, someone of the opposite sex. She brought a date. She didn't even know I existed. I could have lit myself on fire! She Said That's true! We ran into each other the next day again at the same friend's house and he said he remembered meeting me the night before and I'm like "you are.... oh right, right....I don't remember you." But we ended up literally in the kitchen cleaning up, helping out. So we started to talk and talked all the way through washing the dishes, cleaning up and helping. I was dating the gentleman I was with the night before. That was pretty much the end of him. How did you find a comfort zone as a couple that worked for you? He Said The difficulty was that I was working like a dog (in the beginning). She Said He was. He Said I work like a puppy now (laughs). That was a huge stressor. I transported Chris to this new place, and just sort of left her here, while I had to go off and do what I had to do. She Said With no friends... He Said I would come home after 36 hours at the hospital, say hello and pass out. Oh boy, this is married life! She Said It was hard. He Said The great thing about her work at the time was the travel. She was traveling around the world and I would be able to catch up with her in Buenos Aires, Paris, wherever it happened to be. We would pre-extend before the work or on rare occasions, I would be hired as her assistant. She Said I did hire him! He Said I would shlep bags. I would do whatever I had to do. She was a pretty hard boss, I must say. She Said You were great! He Said That really exemplifies our collaboration. It's a partnership; it's a collaboration. We call it two idiots, one brain — both of us work together — our strong suits and weaknesses. We compliment each other. What is your yin and yang to each other? She Said We are so different, aren't we? He Said Are we? She Said We are and we're not. I'm much more impatient than he is and that's great because, I don't know who else would put up with me. He's very patient. I'm much more disciplined in my own way. I'm a list maker. I'm an organizer. I'm a get it done ahead of time, get all of the ducks lined up and make sure everything is straight. He's not so much that way. He Said I'm a guy. So what would have been your biggest argument or biggest decision you didn't agree on? HE SAID By Katherine Ferrara Johnson

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