ITHACA, N.Y. –– The iconic Collegtown Bagels location on East Hill at 411-15 College Avenue closed their doors on Friday in preparation for their move across the street to Cornell’s Sheldon Court property at 420 College Avenue.
The building on the Chacona block of College Ave has been home to Collegetown Bagels for the past 44 years –– CTB operated out of the next-door location, what is now a t-shirt shop in between CTB and Rulloff’s, before moving into the corner spot in 1994.
The space has had many occupants throughout the years –– it’s been a deli called Oliver’s, then Mugsy’s, a Greek diner called Pop’s Place and a beauty shop called Hill Beauty. The tiles that make up the CTB floor are a relic of the beauty shop from nearly 50 years ago.
CTB began developing into the business it is today when Gregar Brous bought the bagel shop in 1980 from the original owner after baking bagels in the shop for two years as an Ithaca College student.
Because of it’s long history and central location Brous said the 411-15 College Avenue restaurant has become a Cornell landmark and sort of an unofficial entrance into campus.
“It’s part of the Cornell experience,” Brous said. “It’s always been a very intimate relationship with the students and staff.”
Due to the location, the Chacona block has been a target for Cornell’s Student Agencies for quite some time. Student Agencies has plans for a new six-story mixed-use building on the site.
“We were talked to about this development 10 or 15 years ago,” Brous said. “So in our thinking about where we would go, we’ve been eyeing the space across the street for many years. We really didn’t want to leave this corner.”
Collegtown has been going through a period of modernization in the last few years –– in 2019 the famed Nines restaurant down the street from CTB sold for $3 million to a developer with plans for a new structure.
Brous said he’s going to be sad to see the old CTB building go.
“There’s a piece of me that will go away when this building goes,” he said. “In an environment in Ithaca that unfortunately knocks down all the old structures and builds modern buildings. I’m very supportive of development but I feel like there’s a real loss to the neighborhood and to the community.”
Members of the public have been invited by the Brous family to stop by the old location and write farewell messages with chalk on the building as a way to give it a final goodbye.
Brous said the new space is set to open in August.
The new Sheldon Court location is 4,900 square feet, more than double the size of the current 2,300 square-foot location. However, according to Brous, the new space doesn’t have a leaseable basement, so some of the interior space needs to be set aside for storage. Still, the new restaurant will end up about 50% larger than the old place.
There will also be ample space for outdoor seating, and the location will benefit from Cornell’s newly renovated and more pedestrian-friendly Schwartz Plaza next door.
Correction: the original story said that CTB had been on the Chacona block for 26 years. That has been corrected to 44 years.