UPDATE HERE

The Ithaca Voice has spoken with two employees of the restaurant who say they were told the bar would be closing on Monday.

A new story will be posted soon.

Earlier — 

Ithaca, N.Y. — Rulloff’s Restaurant and Bar, a staple of Ithaca’s Collegetown since 1977, is closing up shop, according to the owner of Collegetown Bagels.

Gregar Brous, owner of the nearby CTB, said in an interview on Monday that the bar’s lease expired on the last day of August and has not been renewed.

Rulloff’s owners, who appear to live outside of NY State, did not immediately return requests for comment. The front doors of the bar were shuttered Monday afternoon.

Several students stopped outside the watering hole — on Ithaca’s College Avenue, probably the city’s busiest pedestrian strip — and tried fruitlessly to open its doors.

Rulloff’s bar on Monday. (Jeff Stein/Ithaca Voice)
Rulloff’s bar on Monday. (Jeff Stein/Ithaca Voice)

The popular establishment is steeped in Ithaca history.

It’s named after Edward Rulloff, who called himself the “intellectual peer” of Socrates, Kant and Locke, according to the bar’s website.

Edward Rulloff’s notoriety stems from his death in 1871 in the last public hanging in NY State. He had been accused of burglaries, robberies and several murders, and — according to the bar’s website — allegedly disposed of his daughter’s body in Cayuga Lake.

Edward Rulloff’s death has long been considered part of the lore surrounding the bar:

“…Unrepentant to the end, Rulloff proclaimed in his final interview, published in the Ithaca Daily Leader the week before his death, “…you cannot kill an unquiet spirit, and I know that my impending death will not mean the end of Rulloff.

In the dead of night, walking along Cayuga Street, you will sense my presence. When you wake to a sudden chill, I will be in the room. And when you find yourself alone at the lake shore, gazing at gray Cayuga, know that I was cut short and your ancestors killed me.” As he stood on the gallows platform in the center of a crowded Court House Square, Rulloff defiantly spoke his last words, “Hurry it up! I want to be in hell in time for dinner.”

The bar even got a mention in a New York Times story from 2012, titled “Last Call for College Bars.” (The story later was discovered by Ivy Gate to have had several quotes attributed to fake names.)

“… At Cornell, three Collegetown bars have closed in the last year, including the 71-year-old Royal Palm Tavern, a storied dive where students convened at “Palms o’clock,” meaning in time for one last drink.

In an effort to appeal to increasingly demanding students, bars are cleaning up their sticky-as-caramel floors, installing midcentury modern furniture, and offering more hard liquor. This while struggling to keep prices low. “Students want to get drunker faster and cheaper,” said Jason Sidle, general manager of Rulloff’s Restaurant and Bar in Collegetown. 

As the story notes, several Collegetown bars have closed recently — including “the Palms,” “Johnny O’s” and “Dino’s.”

The closing of the Palms was known well ahead of time, with alumni flocking back for a last drink at their favorite bar.

As memorably captured in the Cornell Daily Sun when the Palms closed:

“The bar, though dark, dirty and often sticky, seemed to unite its regulars with a special kind of bond. Students, alumni and townies returning for one more visit described how the bar, commonly known as the Palms, had become their late-night home away from home.

“Every time you come back, you go to the Palms. But where do we go now?” Joe Lando ’92 said outside the bar Wednesday evening.

“Where are we going to go? We have no home anymore!” a student yelled at 1:15 a.m. Sunday, shortly after the music ended for the night.

There was no such sendoff for Rulloff’s. Unlike the person it’s named after, the bar appears to have chosen a silent, unceremonious ending.


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.