One Enchanted Evening
A chance encounter leads to lasting love
Alex Walsh and Stephanie Darrow are each other’s biggest fans
Photo by Rana Faure
After eight years together, Alex Walsh and Stephanie Darrow still exude a sense of wonder at their good fortune in meeting each other. “I was working at the Bedford Gourmet and a friend invited me to go to a poetry reading in Brooklyn, a celebration for a literary magazine edited by a friend of a friend of hers,” Walsh recalls. “It was so random. I thought about the hassle of taking trains and subways to get there and I almost didn’t go. But my friend pointed out, ‘There are always women at a poetry reading in Brooklyn.’”
Her friend was certainly prescient. “I walked in and saw Stephanie right away. She was wearing a Breakfast at Tiffany’s T-shirt and sparkly red Converse sneakers, and while she was reading her poetry, she looked so confident, smart, and totally in control of the room. I found it all very sexy.”
As Darrow recalls their first meeting, “The most beautiful woman I had ever seen started talking to me. I was hosting the poetry reading and party and realized a half an hour later that I was ignoring all my friends and other guests. And I didn’t care! Alex offered me a drink, and I wanted to seem sophisticated, so I ordered a gin and tonic. It was so gross, so I didn’t drink it.”
Walsh too was instantly smitten. “I had ordered a sandwich before we sat down to talk, but when it arrived, I was too nervous to eat it.” However, the couple was clearly not too nervous to talk late into the evening. “We haven’t stopped talking since,” Darrow admits.
The couple had their first “real” date a week later, and Walsh met all of Darrow’s friends. The following weekend was Alex’s 40th birthday party, and Darrow met all of Walsh’s friends. And that was that: they were definitely a duo.
A few years later, Walsh and her other best friend and business partner, Debbie Franzese, bought the Bedford Gourmet and eventually relocated it in a larger space at 460 Old Post Rd. “I had worked as a chef for the former owner for four years, but it was scary to actually buy the business,” Walsh says. “Stephanie gave me the moral support to do this. She has such a calming effect on me—I’m just so happy when she is nearby.” Which she is, a lot, spending most Saturdays in the shop, making menus, running errands, and generally helping out. “It’s a real pleasure to be there with Alex, to sit outside at the little red tables and enjoy the scenic hamlet where we have thrived as professionals and life partners,” Darrow says.
“Bedford was and is a very special town in our relationship,” she continues. “We used to see movies at the Bedford Playhouse, and I studied for my teaching exams at the Bedford Library. We even worked in the Village together while I was a student—we were right across the street from each other! It truly has been a big part of us since the beginning of our relationship and especially since Alex bought the shop.”
After a long engagement, the two were married on December 31, 2012, at City Hall in New York City. The reception was held in the posh Cary Grant suite at the Warwick Hotel in Midtown where the 32 guests heralded both the couple and the new year, watching fireworks from the suite’s private terrace. “We thought getting married on New Year’s Eve suited us,” Darrow says. “Every anniversary will be a big celebration!”
What do they do to keep their relationship fresh? “Sundays are our sacred time,” Walsh confides. “We both work so much during the week that everyone knows not to call or text us then. I love my job, but it is nice on Sundays to have someone else take care of me for a change. We usually go out to brunch, either in Greenwich Village or Upper West Side. We drink mimosas, talk, catch up with each other.”
“Afterwards, we walk around the city holding hands,” Darrow adds. “That is when I am the happiest—just being with my wife. I feel so blessed and lucky that we found each other.” Walsh seconds that emotion.