ITHACA, NY — Holy guacamole! Moving on from catering and pop-ups, the Bickering Twins plan to offer lunch, dinner and a full bar in their new brick-and-mortar restaurant.
Owners Corey and Kevin Adelman have their eyes set on a spring opening in the former Bandwagon Brewpub location.
“Our focus is still going to be tacos—definitely,” Kevin said.
The lunch menu will be counter service, and similar to their weekly taco platters offered at Lincoln Street Diner and The Loft at The Carriage House.
Dinner will feature an expanded menu with waiter service, and will follow in Bandwagon’s footsteps with a full bar.
“We’ve kind of found our niche in Mexican food. It’s really not pan-Latin anymore,” said Kevin, referring to their early pop-ups.
For appetizers, the menu will lean on Mexican street food, with sopes, flautas, and Bickering Twins’ staples of empanadas and seasonal vegetable quesadillas.
The Twins will continue to make their own guacamole and salsa, and they plan to add soup, like posole, and salads to round out the dinner menu. The will continue to source their tortillas from Tortillería Nixtamal in Queens, NY.
“The entrees are going to be tacos, somewhere between seven to 10 different types,” Kevin said. “We’re adding beef tongue and chorizo, some of the things we had tried as specials in the past, but they will be there permanently.”
The Adelmans have enjoyed experimenting with dishes more typical of traditional Mexican cuisine.
“At times, we’ve been nervous to try new things that aren’t so common in this area. When we’ve tried tripe and tongue, people did seem to respond well to it,” Kevin said. “People that weren’t familiar with it were intrigued by it, and people that knew it were really excited by it. I like it because it sets us apart.”
A new look for Bandwagon’s space
The near-seamless restaurant switchover at the Bandwagon location was serendipitous for both parties involved.
“I said to Kevin a long time ago, ‘That location is so cool’, I said tongue in cheek that I’d want to be in that spot if I could and what do you know?” said Corey. “The timing had to be right and so it was just good luck.”
The cozy basement brewpub at 114 N. Cayuga St. was best known for their French fries and beer flights, and closed Wednesday so that their owners could focus their efforts on their Interlaken brewery and tasting room.
“Bandwagon was a great spot, and it’s sad to see one place go,” said Corey. The previous owners were very welcoming and happy that someone else would take over the spot, he continued. “Before them, it sat vacant for three years, and the place isn’t going to close and be empty.”
What will the new restaurant look like? “It has awesome stone walls, and we couldn’t change that even if we wanted to; it’s going to stay distinctive because of that,” Kevin said.
Talking with an interior designer, the brothers have a lot of ideas to give their venture a different feel: brighter colors, new lighting, and Mexican folk art, like Oaxacan wood carvings, to make the formerly pubby atmosphere more their own.
“We’ve been able to serve the food we want, but we haven’t been able to create an environment for people,” Corey said. “You can send a message through the way your place feels,” Kevin added. “We’re excited to create a new scene.”
The Twins are hosting their last taco pop-up at The Loft at The Carriage House on Thursday, February 15.
“We’ve gotten really used to calling ourselves a ‘pop-up’ restaurant, so this is the end of a phase and onto something new,” Corey said. “It feels like the logical next step.”
The Adelmans would like to extend their thanks to all of the owners of The Carriage House, and also to Lincoln Street Diner owner Chris O’Brien and front-of-house manager Laura Phillips for giving them a chance.
They said that they will get access to the former Bandwagon space in a day or two, and will get straight to work updating furniture, and installing new kitchen equipment.
“We’re looking in pretty good shape,” Corey said. “Our menu and recipes are pretty set, we’ve been discussing what our managerial style is going to be and getting the place to look right and ready for customers.”
In little more than a year and a half, Corey and Kevin have covered a lot of ground.
“This is a big jump from weekly pop-ups to a full service restaurant,” Kevin said. “We’re excited; this is really our dream.”
Feature photo by Jennifer Wholey.