Finger Lakes inhabitants have long lauded Ithaca Beer Co. Taproom at Brewery for top-notch dining and brewing. On Feb. 23, Ithaca Beer Co. opened its first satellite location in Collegetown on the eponymous Ithaca Beer Drive within the Student Agencies Building.
Ithaca Beer Co. takes the place of Collegetown Bagels, which moved across the street in June 2020. To determine whether the new restaurant lives up to its prime location at the top of College Avenue, hungry students and thirsty seniors filled the new Ithaca Beer Co. on opening night.
“This is better than what I expected it to be,” said Rohan Bansal ’22. “I thought Ithaca Beer Co. would be like Rulloff’s, honestly.”
Rulloff’s, a staple Collegetown saloon that closed its doors in 2020 after 43 years of operation, had a rustic, antique atmosphere. Ithaca Beer Co.’s blue tinted glass windows, neon signs and free-hanging, bare light bulbs has students concurring that the restaurant brings a new flavor in food and decor.
“The one thing Collegetown was missing was a sports bar vibe,” said Gabe Cohen ’22. “The vibes are very different from what Level B and Hideaway offer. Here, I can sit down with my friends and grab a beer and pizza, which is not an experience I really had before.”
Compared to other restaurants in Collegetown, Cohen said Ithaca Beer Co. is among the best currently operating.
“I’m from Long Island, so I’m a bit biased about CTB, but I definitely think this is on par with some of the nicer places in Collegetown,” Cohen said.
Although Ithaca Beer Co. Collegetown opened on a freezing February day, many Cornell students will enjoy dining and drinking outdoors as the weather warms. According to Ithaca Beer Co. Owner and President Dan Mitchell, the company kept this in mind when they included 2,000 square feet of outdoor patio seating in the plans for their Collegetown location.
However, some Cornell students have noticed that there is far less outdoor seating than promised.
“I don’t know off the top of my head what the square footage is, but I want to say it is somewhere between 1,200 to 1,600 square feet of outdoor patio space,” said Mike Wilber, a manager at Ithaca Beer Co. Collegetown. “Everything was pre-designed through the city and through Student Agencies, so the footprint that we have to put tables in has already been laid out for us.”
However, Cornell students dining at Ithaca Beer Co. on opening night did not seem to mind the limited outdoor seating.
“It’s cold right now, so I don’t really care,” said Daniel Hernandez ’22.
Other Cornell students expressed their agreement.
“I’m a second semester senior, so the fact that I’m able to experience this in any capacity is refreshing,” Cohen said. “I’m not going to quibble about 800 missing square feet outside.”
Naturally, students at Ithaca Beer Co. arrived for good food and drinks, hoping that the new location would be similar to the original.
“I got the Cornell Chicken Sandwich, and it is fantastic,” said Hernandez. “This is the same good food as the main Ithaca Beer Co., and I can’t really tell the difference.”
Compared to the Brewery location, Wilber noted that the menu offers many of the same items, alongside new entrées and locally sourced ingredients such as Hudson Valley fish and steelhead trout.
Though currently unable to sell their own alcohol, according to Wilber, the taproom will acquire its full liquor license Friday morning, allowing customers to enjoy their famous beers as soon as Friday afternoon.
In the meantime, students and Ithacans alike can get a taste of Collegetown’s newest eatery with other varieties of beer.
When asked to describe Ithaca Beer Co.’s satellite location in three words, Cohen did not hesitate to respond.
“Good, beer, vibes,” he said.