Mr. Starin was raised on the banks of the Hudson River in New York State and muses that its waters still course through his veins. A country boy at heart his teenage years were spent climbing and hiking the Shawangunk Cliffs west of New Paltz, NY, competing in the 200 meter butterfly for the high school swim team, and occasionally driving his 1963 vintage Volvo across other peoples' farm lands.
After college he traveled to Asia where he spent several years working for an advertising company, teaching photography and studying Mandarin. He returned to the U.S. where he settled into Park Slope, Brooklyn when it was a little-known, back-water neighborhood bustling with artists, musicians, a diverse ethnic community and only the occasional banker. That was a time when getting friends to cross the Brooklyn Bridge required no small amount of arm twisting. But for the brave souls who did venture out and join him for lunch in the borough's charming restaurants or grungy diners they were pleasantly surprised. Not only did they discover Brooklyn was just as nice and less expensive than Manhattan, but it had great restaurants where you could enjoy a meal without banging your elbows into the patron seated next to you.
In 1999 Mr. Starin left Citibank where he was working as a computer engineer and opened Bulgin' Waffles in one of the Lower East Side's iconic corner properties - the Litte Ricky’s chachka shop at the intersection of First Avenue and East Third Street. The idea for a tasty waffle joint that was comfortable and classy yet easy on the wallet was the motivating force - as well as a love of food and making people happy. It opened to rave reviews and was awarded the Time Out New York Magazine's 2001 Best Cheaps Eats Award. But the events of 9/11 shuttered many businesses south of 14th. street and Bulgin' Waffles was no exception - it closed its doors in the spring of 2002 after a brief but happy and profitable run.
He found himself at a crossroads no restaurateur desires: a belligerent landlord demanding lease payments from a shuttered business. But there was a silver lining that revealed itself to him from an unlikely source: the Chinese language. He recalled how the Chinese character for crisis was really composed of two separate characters: the one for danger and the one for opportunity. It was the divination he needed: he decided to sell the assets rather than abandon the premises - the lease, good will, equipment, upgraded infrastructure and other improvements he made to Little Ricky’s had value in the real estate hospitality market. He re-negotiated a new lease with the landlord (and insisted on an assigment clause), then sold the business and assets and headed back out to Asia where he spent the next few years exploring new destinations.
In 2008 Mr. Starin acquired the family real estate business that his father started in the Hudson Valley in 1949. He now divides his time between upstate New York where he owns property and Brooklyn where has an apartment and from where he manages Restaurant Loot and his family's real estate business, the Stareal Group LLC.
These days when he's not engaged in real estate deals in NYC or the Hudson Valley, you can find him hiking the beautiful river hills and valleys - perhaps not as perilious as racing his car across other peoples' farm land, but a whole lot more relaxing.