Four Cornell alums who were heartbroken when their favorite restaurant closed down amid scandal have banded together to reopen Wings Over Ithaca in the heart of Collegetown.
Dan Leyva ’14, the main operating partner, declined to announce a specific opening date, but said the revamped restaurant will open during the spring semester at 121 Dryden Road, which previously housed a tobacco shop.
The Ithaca wings favorite, formerly located on East Hill, shut its doors in October after 10 years of service when then-owner Bruce McPherson was charged with 26 felonies, including second-degree grand larceny and second-degree criminal tax fraud.
Many Ithacans and Cornellians were saddened by the closing and commiserated on social media, with one Facebook user writing, “RIP wings over ithaca. Your wings will be missed.” The tributes turned to action in the form of a petition to bring back the wing shop, which garnered about 350 signatures.
Construction on the building began Tuesday, Leyva said, adding that he is excited to bring the restaurant closer to students, although he said they can still order delivery if they don’t want to leave their dorms.
“The big thing is that we’re super excited about the new location, because before it was not very accessible for students,” he said. “We expect it to be place where people come in and have wings late at night.”
Levya and the other three owners — Kevin Mok ’14, Raunak Nirmal ’14 and Mike Wang ’07, all based in New York City — are hoping the restaurant becomes a “Collegetown staple” for both Cornell students and native Ithacans.
“With a lot of places closing in Collegetown, whether that was Dino’s or some of the bars, we really wanted to do something that would bring a staple back to people who loved it the most,” Leyva said.
While the full hours and menu aren’t yet set in stone, Leyva said the restaurant will have a similar menu and keep serving wings past 2 a.m. on weekends.
The owners will soon be trying to hire delivery staff, Leyva said, adding that the wing joint is “looking to hire great people whether they’re students or people from town.”
“We want to be an Ithaca staple, so we want to serve obviously Cornell, and also Ithaca College and the community,” he explained.
Leyva said he is excited to serve wings to all the restaurant’s future patrons, but there is one group of customers with whom he is especially grateful to share the classic wings.
“We’re super excited to bring it back to campus and share it with the students,” he said. “Especially the seniors who will only be there for one more semester.”
Wings Over Ithaca is expected to reveal its opening date later this semester, Leyva said.