ITHACA, N.Y. — Four Cornell alums are responsible for answering the public’s call to reopen Wings Over Ithaca after the previous location was closed last year when the owner was charged with 26 counts of tax evasion.
“We were really looking into the opportunity of how to bring back one of the college staples,” said Dan Leyva, one of four operating partners in on the project.

Leyva graduated from The Cornell School of Hotel Administration in 2014 and remembers Wings Over Ithaca being a hot spot for him when he was in college. His fraternity Beta Theta Pi hosted an annual Super Bowl party catered by the restaurant, and he remembers going there with staff when he worked at The Statler Hotel.

He heard about the restaurant’s closure in October, when former owner Bruce McPherson was charged with second-degree grand larceny,  second-degree criminal tax fraud, four counts of third-degree criminal tax fraud, and 20 counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing.

Leyva then teamed up with three Cornell alum buddies — Kevin Mok, Raunak Nirmal and Mike Wang — to reopen the restaurant.

Collectively, Leyva and Mok bring experience in hotel administration, Nirmal graduated from Cornell Engineering and Wang graduated from the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management.

“We had nothing to do with the previous ownership…It’s a completely new ownership deal,” Leyva said.

He said that the four new partners live in New York City but have strong roots in Ithaca. On top of that, the four worked with previous mangers, such as former General Manager Mitchell Blinn, to bring them on board to help run the place.

“We thought it would be great to see if we could keep them on board, and we were able to work something out to keep them on board,” Leyva said.

The new location is at 121 Dryden Road, near Collegetown Pizza and Ithaca Renting Company.

But just because there’s a new location, doesn’t mean Leyva wants to only cater to college students.

He said the restaurant will provide the same menu it previously did and continue delivering food throughout the Ithaca area.

Construction started at the new location on Tuesday and the restaurant is expected to open some time within the spring semester.

Featured image from Wings Over Ithaca Facebook page. 

Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.