The Carriage House Cafe, popular for its brunch menu, has officially opened a new cocktail lounge, The Loft, in an effort to fill the void left by an epidemic of bar closings in Collegetown.
The owners say the space’s soft opening last Wednesday and the grand opening Thursday were successful, with visitors demonstrating enthusiasm for the new lounge.
“It was so fun to talk with guests and hear how happy they were to be in our space and enjoy the setting,” said Jessica Chandler, bar and lounge manager for the cafe. “We didn’t have too large of a crowd over the course of the night, but it was perfect for a good start. There were lots of positive feedback about the setup of the outdoor and indoor areas, the drink menus and more.”
While the Carriage House’s downstairs area has long seen a steady stream of eager lunch and brunch-goers, the Loft is meant to better use the upstairs area while maintaining the cafe’s vibe. Chandler added that the owners were eager to try fill the void left after a fire forced the Chapter House to close in 2015.
“The Chapter House has been a personal loss for us as we were frequent patrons and had close connections with the staff,” Chandler said.
While Chandler said the lounge is not meant to target a specific audience, the owners focused on creating a vibe that would attract a broad array of Ithacans.
“We don’t necessarily have a target audience — we have a vision for our space and whatever type of person enjoys that, we are happy to welcome into it,” Chandler said. “It doesn’t target a customer looking for a nightclub, but maybe it’s a place where they want to start their evening.”
The Loft has been a work in progress for several years, taking shape gradually.
“We added a full liquor license onto our wine and beer license two years ago and built our first bar in the upstairs,” Chandler said. “That was a step in this direction, but immediately [it] was meant for the private events we were doing at the time.” Chandler said.
This year, the Carriage House added an additional eight foot bar on the long wall of the room which was “open with a more consistent schedule.”
“Once it started coming together, we thought the fall would be a very fun time to officially open,”Chandler said.
As each passing week seemed to bring news of the longtime Collegetown bar closing, students hope The Loft will provide a much-needed alternative to the quickly dwindling line-up of nightlife venues.
“I think this may be a great space in Collegetown for students,” Matt Indimine ’18 said. “Though I haven’t yet personally been there, I do hope that it is a physically and economically accessible place to all students, as many other places in Collegetown are not.”