Wings Over Ithaca will begin dishing out and delivering wings, fries and sandwiches this week from a new Collegetown location under the ownership of four Cornell alumni.
The new location at 121 Dryden Rd. can seat about 30 people and boasts a menu of burgers, wraps, salads and 25 flavors of boneless and regular wings.
While an exact opening date is not yet set, the restaurant will open sometime this week, said Dan Leyva ’14, the main operating partner and a graduate of the School of Hotel Administration.
Leyva and the three other owners — Kevin Mok ’14, Raunak Nirmal ’14 and Mike Wang ’07 — showed a group of reporters around the restaurant on Saturday as music played from speakers and two large, flat-screen televisions displayed live college basketball action.
Leyva emphasized that he and the current owners have nothing to do with Bruce McPherson, the former owner of Ithaca’s previous Wings Over Ithaca location on East Hill who was charged with 20 counts of tax fraud in October, shuttering the business.
When the four Cornell alumni saw that their favorite eatery had closed, they began texting each other and joking about the idea of opening up their own store. Soon after, the joking turned into planning and the Cornellians signed an agreement with the Wings Over franchise, which has about 40 locations across 13 states.
Chris Gardner worked for 9 years at the former location and said it was a rough experience when it closed under surprising circumstances, putting him out of a job. Now, he is ready to start doing what he loves again in Collegetown at the new restaurant.
“I’m so excited,” he said. “I can’t wait to just get back in there and do what we do. It’s what we know and we’re passionate about.”
Leyva and the other owners hired several managers from the previous Wings Over Ithaca location, forming about half of their management team.
Gardner said his wife works at Cornell and has been peppered with questions from colleagues about when the restaurant is going to open, raising the stakes for him.
“My wife said, ‘you better do a good job,’” he said, laughing.
The wings stop will open at 11 a.m. every day and stay open until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, 2 a.m. on Thursday nights, midnight on Sundays, and 1 a.m. Monday through Wednesday.
The sizable wings generally cost about $1 each, but party deals offer lower prices for large orders. Hamburgers and other sandwiches and wraps will cost about $7.
Students can order online, eat at the restaurant, pick up take-out orders or stay at home and order delivery, Leyva said.
“We knew that this was a staple for the community but we didn’t realize how much of a staple it was until it went away,” Leyva said. “We’ve been trying to get this open as quickly as possible.”