Plenty of people enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning, but for Davina Thomasula, it’s a must. The busy Keller Williams real estate agent, enthusiastic entrepreneur, and now HGTV host, relies on that caffeine moment to carefully think through her day. “I make lists and then prioritize things to cross off,” she says.
Thomasula grew up in south Florida and spent summers in Buffalo, then made her way down to New York City to cut her teeth in hospitality and real estate. Soon enough though, the nature, culture, architecture, and vibe of the Hudson Valley proved irresistible, and she started selling properties here. “I fell in love with helping people build wealth and market their homes creatively,” she says. An HV resident for about five years, Thomasula now lives in Kingston, in a house built in 1923 from a Sears catalog mail-order kit. The kitchen was partially redone on her new Hudson Valley-focused HGTV show, “Small Town Potential,” but the rest of the house is “pretty much living in all its old glory,” laughs Thomasula.
The TV connection dates back over a decade, to when Thomasula worked as the front-of-house designer and manager for her best friend, chef Michele Ragussis, on a Food Network competition series. That opportunity eventually led to “Small Town Potential.” She and fiancée Kristin Leitheuser, a contractor who learned the trade from her master-carpenter dad, filmed eight one-hour episodes slated to run starting January 7. “Working with Kris on the show was fun and challenging,” says Thomasula. “Knowing someone like we know one another makes it easy to create something amazing together, but we can also push each other’s buttons at times.” They had a blast doing the show and hope to do more with the network down the line.
Another of Thomasula’s exciting local ventures is bar ownership, which she describes as a longtime dream. Prior to getting into real estate, she happily worked in bars for years. She and a business partner opened Goodnight Kenny on Academy Street in Poughkeepsie in October 2022, naming it after her dad, a Buffalo Music Hall of Fame inductee affectionately known for loving naps since he often worked nights. The space—originally a 1940s-era bar rumored to be Eleanor Roosevelt’s source of booze—featured an amazing back bar area, which fueled the decision to keep things cozy, retro, and dark. (The drinks menu won Hudson Valley’s “Best Craft Cocktail” award last year.) “The bar’s personality is developing along with the people who come in and drink here, which I think makes it feel like a community,” she says.
“I fell in love with helping people build wealth and market their homes creatively.”
Renovations are underway for a second bar, this one in Kingston on Delaware Avenue. Sorry Charlie will also be a neighborhood place, with a full kitchen. The team includes the folks behind Hudson & Packard in Poughkeepsie, resurrecting a former bar/restaurant space. “There’s something really special about finding these little gems and bringing them back to life,” says Thomasula. Cheers to that!