It appears that students will not be the only ones returning to Ithaca from summer vacation. After closing its doors in June, ABC Café, Ithaca’s longtime vegetarian restaurant and music venue, is returning this fall under the management of three new owners.
Sean Lunny and the two other owners, who have asked to remain anonymous for personal and business reasons, purchased the café’s menu and restaurant equipment in August after the former ABC Café was forced to close due to financial problems.
“Our goal is to have more options in the line of organic, local, vegan, vegetarian, raw and gluten free food. Together we can go beyond what was the ABC Café and create Another Beautiful Café,” the owners stated on the café’s Facebook page.
Returning patrons and new customers can expect to find the café renovated with new windows and floor tiles and the menu expanded with more vegetarian and vegan dishes.
“I’m a vegan and I’ve been cooking for a lot of years,” Lunny said. “We’re definitely going to have more variety and price options so that there’s something for everyone.”
In addition to the former café’s menu of themed international fare, a supplement of late night snacks such as pizza will be served to attract college students. The café will also offer fresh-squeezed juices and other health foods.
“We’re turning the focus on local foods. We’ll serve local, New York state beer and Fingerlakes wine,” Lunny said. “We’ll also be working more with eggplant, which will give more variety to the vegetarian and vegan dishes.”
The list of changes to be made to the establishment includes the café’s name.
“We can’t keep the name [ABC Café] because it’s in a lot of debt and behind on a lot of taxes,” Lunny said. “It’s just too expensive to keep.”
Although the new owners have not agreed on a new name for the café located at 308 Stewart Ave., they are temporarily calling the café “Beyond ABC.”
“We had an idea to call the café the Sweet Beets Café, but not all of us like that. We’re still working on finding a good name,” Lunny said.
The owners hope to enhance the artistic and musical atmosphere of the former ABC Café by building a stage and clearing out the tables at night to accommodate shows.
“We want to be even more oriented around local music,” one of the owners said. “We hope to bring in D.J.’s every Wednesday night and continue to have Jazz Night every Thursday, which was really popular with the college crowd.”
Several student patrons expressed surprise upon hearing of ABC Café’s closing, but were happy that Beyond ABC is picking up where it left off.
“I really enjoyed ABC Café. All of my friends have been there, and a few of my good friends played there often,” John David Minnich ’10 said. “It was a nice environment to sit and have a beer or a cup of coffee and chat.”
“It was cozy and really personal,” Carol Chiu ’12 said of ABC Café’s atmosphere. “I lived nearby during the summer and was really sad when I heard it was going to close. It’s a good alternative for Collegetown dwellers, so I’m glad it’s reopening.”