Anne Trimble

Anne (Treffiletti) Trimble, B.A.’71

Maintaining an Albany Institution

By Amy Halloran, B.A.’90

nne (Treffiletti) Trimble opened La Serre with her husband, Geoffrey W. Trimble, B.A.’72, now deceased, in downtown Albany in 1977. The name means “greenhouse” in French, and the restaurant is tucked among the capital’s tall buildings, with a small greenhouse offering sunny seating and a courtyard allowing further access outdoors. La Serre serves continental fare and has private rooms, too, bringing the restaurant’s capacity up to 200.

While the Trimbles were studying at UAlbany, they worked at L’Ecole, a little bistro within walking distance of campus. “The place was very quaint, ahead of its time,” Anne recalled.

The Treffiletti family was in the wholesale grocers business, and Anne’s father – whose hard work and example “gave us a better education than any institution ever could” – made sure his daughters were formally prepared for whatever line of work they chose. Anne earned an associate’s degree in business from the Junior College of Albany and spent a few months in San Francisco before returning to Albany for her bachelor’s. She studied education. Geoffrey was an English major. Both of them loved taking film classes with Professor Arthur Lennig.

After teaching, Trimble discovered she liked the restaurant business better. She and Geoffrey started La Serre with L’Ecole’s owner, Ken Nierenberg. Their partner left after a year, but La Serre has become an institution, serving the Capitol and other Albany fixtures, including SUNY Central.

Long before the wild success of his novel Ironweed, William Kennedy was Geoffrey’s advisor. Over the years, the author has made La Serre a part of The New York State Writers Institute, feting writers at dinners there. Relationships such as this, and other contacts made before and after the Trimbles’ time at UAlbany, have contributed to the restaurant’s success.

Anne Trimble and her son John

John Trimble helps his mom operate La Serre

Recipe: La Serre's Lobster Ravioli

La Serre is busiest during the legislative session. Changes made to lobbying laws in the 1980s, Trimble said, permanently affected not only her establishment but the whole restaurant industry, from produce vendors to valet-parking attendants. She sees the loss in terms that are not strictly financial: “Politicians were more able to mingle and talk across the aisle” years ago, Trimble observed.

The restaurant business seems to run in Trimble’s family. After working in finance, son John came to La Serre when his father passed away, five years ago. Daughter Nicole’s restaurant, Porreca’s, is in Lake George. Nephew Michael Carney, a star server at La Serre several years ago, continues to tend bar there.

Over the years, La Serre has served hundreds of graduation parties. Many UAlbany students have been employed there, especially when The Wellington housed students downtown.