By now, it’s old news that Collegetown Bagels and Ruloff’s on College Ave. are set to be demolished next semester to make way for new student housing. But the true reality of the situation has yet to hit us as the corner of College and Oak still looks as lively as ever. While it’s hard to imagine what Collegetown will be like without CTB in just one short semester, The Sun’s dining department writers are already starting to reminisce on what CTB has meant for them during their time at Cornell.
CTB has everything — a leisurely breakfast, a snack when time is running low, a meal to wash down Friday night’s beverages and a meal to help you remember the night before. But above all else, for me, it is a time machine.
The first time I visited CTB, I was a visitor to Cornell, touring the campus and deliberating where to continue my academic career. I remember exactly what I ate. The dozens of sandwiches, wraps and bagels were too much to choose from, so I went for something familiar — the Big Apple. Simple, with turkey and apple, it reflected my reluctance to try the unknown. The sandwich reminds me of immaturity, but foreshadows a period of growth — freshman year.
Flash forward to today. Going to CTB is like taking a trip to my neighborhood deli. I know what to order, and what not to. The shop became part of my experiences, from learning to live off Santa Fe bowls to swearing never to pay for coffee again, CTB now reminds me of how far I’ve come since first getting the Big Apple Sandwich two years ago.
— Peter Kaplinsky ’22
CTB was the first place that eased me into Cornell; its warm, carby smell welcomed me onto campus during Cornell Days, when the snow was freshly melted and I was about to meet my roommate for the first time. Even after a semester of college, it remains the hallmark of my freshman experience. One of my fondest memories is an impromptu trip on the TCAT to Collegetown on a blustery fall night to grab some iced matcha lattes for a friend and I to enjoy back at our dorm. Another time I’m grateful for was after tailgating during homecoming when my head was throbbing and all I wanted to do was to drown my sorrows in dense, chewy bread.
When I was the most lost, CTB provided me a warm, glowing haven I will never be able to replace. From the first disorienting night out on a weekend to munching on California Sunrises with people that would endure the highs and lows of college with me, it’s the one place I’ve really felt at home in Ithaca. It serves as a gentle transition from our campus bubble to the real world out there. CTB may no longer be in Collegetown, but it will forever have a home in our hearts.
— Sanjana Kaicker ’23
As someone that lives in Collegetown, CTB has become one of my go-to dining options. Whether it is late-night food cravings, pre-exam meals, post-exam meals or the craving for a PB & Joe (a beautiful concoction of peanut butter, cold brew, banana and chocolate), CTB has been my go-to.
I first discovered CTB my freshman year with my mom during orientation week. Every single day my mom was here was a day spent at CTB. We were both in awe of their extensive menu and made it a mission to try something new each time we went. My mom was the one who broke the news to me that CTB was being demolished. She was more devastated than I was about the news.
My favorite memory of CTB is freshman year, the day before Thanksgiving break. I was temporarily stress-free since prelims were over and since I had finished packing for my trip back home. My roommates and I decided in the spur-of-the-moment to go to CTB. We ordered smoothies, the famous avocado toast, an oreo dessert and pumpkin cheesecake. One of my roommates mentioned that this is our sad version of a friendsgiving. At the moment I began to reflect on my first semester at Cornell and realized that I was grateful for the people I met and that even over such a small break, I was going to miss them. The CTB adventure with my roommates made me realize that I had finally found a home away from home at Cornell.
— Meridien Mach ’22
CTB is an Ithacan delicacy. Their partnership with Ithaca Bakery allows them to deliver the best bagels in town, by far. Just steps away from campus, CTB is a distinguished social hub for Cornellians. It’s endless menu offers savory to sweet, from pizza bagels to a scoop of Purity’s own ice cream. Therefore, students are grieving it’s anticipated destruction. Personally, I will miss waking up on Sunday mornings for CTB’s infamous avocado toast: a decadent staple. CTB’s avocado mash is drizzled with olive oil and topped with cracked pepper and sea salt, which tingles my taste buds. This dish never disappoints, and always provides the perfect crunch on a slice of multigrain toast. Although it’s simple, I am never able to replicate this dish myself to deliver the same heightened satisfaction. CTB just has the perfect touch.
Students often find themselves ending their night at CTB when they are craving a late night snack. What better way to end the night than with a comforting meal? My favorite memory from this bagel joint is from freshman year, when my roommate and I ignorantly went out in jeans and a tank top in 20 degree weather. As we hurried into CTB to regain heat in our fingertips and get something to eat, we were immediately drawn by the neon pink CTB sweatshirt on display. For just $10, we went from being absolutely freezing, to warm and stylish, repping our favorite spot in Collegetown. I still cherish this sweatshirt today not for its style or comfort, but because it holds sentimental value to a great memory. I know that in two years once I graduate from Cornell I will treasure this sweatshirt even more as I reminisce on my college journey.
— Sofia Siciliani ’22
One of the things that drew me to Cornell was the existence of a Collegetown staple, a place that students, staff and alumni equally cherish. I did not find out about CTB’s impending closure until a week or two into my first semester, so upon that discovery, I decided to enjoy CTB as fully as one could in a single semester. Of course, with the largest range of menu options known to Ithaca, I lacked both the time and money needed to achieve this feat. However, I feel that I have made the most of all the mid Saturday mornings, late nights and weeknight dinner deliveries in which I took advantage of the beloved spot. My breakfast go to has become the California Sunrise: scrambled eggs, avocado, red onions and melted cheese all harmoniously stacked atop a plain or sesame bagel (my simple preference to avoid distracting from the bold toppings). This protein and flavor packed meal has fueled several productive Saturdays spent in the library, making me a bit concerned for when it is no longer a wake-me-up option. Another honorable mention goes to the pizza bagel. Nothing compares to the combination of cheese, bread and red sauce. CTB executes this in a way that suits any occasion, mood and time of day. While I wish I had more time to try everything that CTB has to offer, I remain grateful to have experienced it as a student here.
— Julia Lescht ’23
As CTB’s highest grossing delectable shares the namesake of my dog (whose name is Bagel), my ignorant mind decided during the first month of freshman year that I would not purchase or consume any relevant products. My ambitions quickly dispersed after a close friend gave me a corner piece out of her bagel during a foggy Saturday evening. While we may never understand how a toasted piece of holed wheat bread simply spread with cream cheese (which, to be fair, was dangerously delicious for such a simple combination) could cost $3.35, CTB is undoubtedly a Collegetown icon. First, for its quality of food. CTB defies your typical supermarket bought loaf bread which is airy, flavourless and nutritionally unfilling with an artisanal bread selection crafted to a wide variety of tastes. Then comes the iconic mile long menu with has been chalked to extinction with almost any sandwich item that you would crave for, from crowd pleasers such as avocado toast to panini’s filled to the brink with cheese, meats and vegetables.
My favourite memory of CTB comes from a couple of weeks back when I headed to the establishment for Sunday brunch alongside a couple of high school friends who were visiting Ithaca. As we sat down in the outdoor area with our drinks and freshly baked goods, a small but growing number of honey bees approached our table. While I am not a big fan of bees, my reactions were tamed by my prior experiences in the Ithacan wilderness as compared to my good friend from a city school who was absolutely terrified by the flying insects. Somehow, we managed to enjoy the meal and depart with nothing more than a filled stomach and a good laugh. A random recollection; nevertheless, it are these experiences and memories that make CTB ever so special.
— Dominic Law ’22