Ithaca, N.Y. — Simeon’s on the Commons will reopen after it was badly damaged in a fatal June crash, according to the restaurant’s owners.

“We’re going through on the rebuild,” co-owner Dean Zervos said in an interview on Tuesday. “We’re just waiting for some numbers and everything else to get started.”

Zervos said he guesses that it will take anywhere from eight months to a year from when construction begins for the restaurant to reopen. He wasn’t sure when construction will begin.

A truck crashed into the bistro on June 20, killing pregnant young bartender Amanda Bush. The crash sent several people to the hospital, drew hundreds of emergency responders to the area, and rattled Ithaca to its core.

Simeon’s owners have long expressed an intent to reopen the restaurant but had not previously said that the rebuild would happen.

Richard Avery, the other co-owner, said Tuesday that a major breakthrough came about two weeks ago when Simeon’s got good news from the building owners. Avery and Zervos received documentation from the building owners that it was also their intent to rebuild.

“We always thought it was 80-20; we were always being positive,” Avery said, “but nothing was official yet.”

Zervos and Avery celebrated the news.

“Obviously, we were happy about it,” Avery said. “It was the best case scenario for us … there weren’t any scenarios where we were going to come out too badly but this was the best case scenario …

“Keeping our lease intact … and rebuilding Simeon’s was the best case scenario for us across the board, business and personal.”

Avery said it’s important to keep in mind that the process for rebuilding will be slow and that it will take time for the building to come back together.

He said there may be unforeseen obstacles in the process of reopening the building and said estimates varied greatly about how long it would take.

Muralist Mary Beth Ihnken on Tuesday. (Jeff Stein/Ithaca Voice)

New mural

On Tuesday, Mary Beth Ihnken was perched on an elevated fixture, her legs dangling over the side.

The Ithaca muralist was painting what she called a “city/cafe scene scape” on the exterior of the building destroyed in the Simeon’s crash.

“It’s trying to put something that was here and will be back here on the mural,” Ihnken said.

“My goal is to have it done by Friday.”

Ihnken, who has painted several murals around town, said the work was being funded through the Downtown Ithaca Alliance and the Tompkins County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“We’re hoping to invigorate this corner,” Ihnken said.


Previous Simeon’s crash coverage


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Jeff Stein

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