With Apollo closing its doors after 16 years, members of the Cornell community have donated over $10,000 dollars to a campaign to help the store pay for remaining business expenses.
Once students abruptly left campus in March, Apollo found it difficult to turn a profit. The restaurant received $7,000 in government aid, but it wasn’t enough to help keep it afloat.
Despite some students returning to campus, business did not improve during the fall, ending with Apollo closing its doors Nov. 30. While the owners sold the restaurant, it wasn’t enough to cover the remaining business expenses such as staff salaries or rent.
In response, Zich Zhou ’16 and Helena Wu ’16 created a GoFundMe on Nov. 29 to help Apollo pay its remaining expenses after visiting during Thanksgiving break. The original goal was $5,000, but this goal was surpassed overnight after the fundraiser received an outpouring of community support. The organizers extended the goal to $8,000, which was also surpassed in two days. Currently, the alumni have raised $10,040 for the Collegetown restaurant.
While the amount doesn’t cover all the remaining expenses, the owners wanted to end the campaign at $10,000 because they were grateful for the support and believed this was a sufficient amount, according to Wu. They also wanted the community to help the other businesses in Ithaca that were still open and struggling.
This fundraiser for Apollo’s staff is apart of a larger hub of campaigns called “#SaveCollegetown”, which was created by Zhou and Wu in order “to provide future Cornell students the chance to have their Collegetown memories, and give alumni a refuge to reminisce of the good ol’ days during future reunions”, according to the campaign’s website.
The campaign’s previously raised $21,450 for Cafe Pacific, when the restaurant was struggling with rent and a lack of business.
Currently, the campaign is both reaching out and receiving partnership requests from other students who want to support struggling businesses in Collegetown. Zhou said the winter months could be difficult for restaurants in Collegetown because most students are home.
Zhou primarily attributes the Apollo fundraiser’s success to the fact that many students have fond memories at the Collegetown eatery.
“Apollo was the de facto on campus dining for a lot of Chinese students, international students, and they will go to Apollo’s after school,” Zhou said. “It is affordable, and could cure the homesickness for us.”