As winter break came to an end and classes began Jan. 22, Cornell students brought life back to the dorms, libraries and classrooms that had been vacant over the holiday season. For many Collegetown restaurants, this means a return to business as usual — a vital part of the year that keeps the doors of these establishments open.
Mia Jeong, manager of Four Seasons, a Korean barbecue restaurant located on Eddy Street, said that business at the restaurant was very slow over the break and that the restaurant has seen more customers — although it is not yet busy — following the return of students to campus.
Four Seasons was closed for two weeks of the winter season, reopening Jan. 9. Jeong estimated that about 90 percent of the restaurant’s customers are Cornell students.
“I’m expecting it to get better this weekend [Jan. 28 – 29],” Jeong said, noting that January and February are typically slower months. The restaurant has historically been busy from March until the end of May.
Local Hawaiian-inspired restaurant PokeLava also closed for at least part of the winter recess. Jenny Zhang, manager of PokeLava, wrote in an email to The Sun that the restaurant had been closed from Dec. 23 to Jan. 10, referencing that 98 percent of its customers are Cornell students and that business was “extremely slow” during the break.
The restaurant gains “a lot more business when students return,” Zhang said.
The College Avenue location of Collegetown Bagels, affectionately known by students and locals alike as “CTB”, is the company’s busiest location. Owner Gregor Brous previously stated that “when Cornell leaves, our business goes away.”
When The Sun requested a current statement from CTB, an employee answering the phone noted staffing shortages at the location.
In a previous statement to the Sun, Jose Iemus, manager of the Collegetown 7-Eleven location, estimated that 80 percent of the customers at the 7-Eleven come from the University, with the remainder being employees of neighboring Collegetown businesses.
George Papachryssanthou, owner of Collegetown businesses Ithaca Wine and Spirits and Chatty Cathy Cafe, previously reported to The Sun that Cornell students comprise almost 100 percent of the revenue for his Collegetown stores.
Local magazine 14850 encouraged Ithaca residents to help out Collegetown businesses during the winter in the absence of student business. The magazine also advised customers to order directly from restaurants to reduce the sharing of profits with third-party services.
Christos Rabavilas of Souvlaki House, which has served Italian and Greek food in Collegetown for 53 years, wrote in an email to The Sun that the restaurant’s two-week closure was devoted to cleaning, renovations and time spent with family for the restaurant’s employees.
“We are really happy you are back,” Rabavilas said of the students, sharing his thanks and appreciation to both the Cornell community as well as local customers for their support of the restaurant.