By GABRIELLA LEE
In efforts to embrace new businesses as the Commons redesign project continues, Ithaca leaders welcomed three new eateries — Red’s Place, Gorgers Taco Shack and Sacred Root Kava Lounge — during downtown ribbon-cutting ceremonies Wednesday.
Among those attending were Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 and Gary Ferguson, executive director of the Downtown Ithaca Alliance. According to Ferguson, the three eateries are only “the tip of the iceberg” of the trend of numerous new downtown businesses.
The opening of new businesses in conjunction with the Commons redesign project — which is scheduled to be completed by spring 2015 — marked a period of “transition” for downtown Ithaca, Ferguson said.
“In the months to come [downtown Ithaca] will change [and] more and more things will open,” he said.
At the ceremonies, Myrick thanked the proprietors of the businesses on behalf of the city for showing their support to downtown Ithaca.
“Downtown is the cultural and economic heart of the city,” Myrick said. “If the downtown doesn’t thrive … then the city doesn’t work.”
He added that with the city’s investment in remodeling the Commons, the opening of new businesses signalled to the rest of the community that “downtown is the place to be.”
Ferguson said he expects the new businesses to increase the city’s economic activity, adding that downtown has already seen more pedestrian traffic since their openings.
Looking toward the future, Ferguson said the Downtown Ithaca Alliance will continue to reach out to more businesses and was hoping to fill any gaps with more “experiential retailing and experiential businesses.”
He noted that the three businesses welcomed at the ribbon cutting ceremonies all offer vastly different experiences.
Red’s Place, which opened on May 16 and is located on North Aurora Street, is a dining pub that serves international cuisine in a laidback environment.
Gorgers Taco Shack, which opened Aug. 29 and is owned by the same brothers that own Gorgers Subs on West State Street, aims to serve the flavors of a high-end restaurant at affordable prices with their fusion tacos, according to owner Matthew Diamond.
Similar to Gorgers Taco Shack — which is open until 2 a.m. — Sacred Root Kava Lounge will also be open late beginning Sept. 19. Located in the basement of The Cornell Daily Sun Building at 139 West State St. (and accessed by an entrance facing S. Geneva Street), the lounge, which serves organic teas, coffees and desserts and the ceremonial elixir kava, opened with “tremendous community support,” according to proprietor Paul Galgoczy.