ITHACA, N.Y. –– Representatives from the City of Ithaca, the Downtown Ithaca Alliance and the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce came together on Monday afternoon to celebrate two new businesses opening in the city with a ceremonial ribbon cutting.

One of the businesses, Sparks and Embers, located at 118 W Green St. in Press Bay Alley, is a luxury lifestyle boutique carrying indie brands, home decor, apparel and accessories, skincare products and more. The owners are Jack and Sarah Clausen, who made the move from Brooklyn to Ithaca amidst the pandemic.

“Originally we thought we were going to buy a house and ride out the pandemic and keep it as a vacation rental or something and go back to the city,” owner Sarah said. “But we love it so much that we decided to stay and open a business.”

While the Clausens were pursuing careers in other industries back in Brooklyn, they’ve both brought their love of fashion into their new shop.

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The local officials present at Monday’s ceremony shared congratulations to the entrepreneurs before the ribbon was cut.

“If you can make this work now, you can definitely make it work anytime,” Alderperson Seph Murtagh told Sarah and Jack.

DIA Executive Direction Gary Ferguson echoed the sentiment, telling the new business owners, “I can’t think of a harder time to get started but there’s nowhere to go but up.”

The other business celebrating their opening was La Bodega, located at 215 N. Cayuga Street inside the DeWitt Mall. La Bodega serves authentic Spanish tapas and will also sell Spanish groceries. Pedro Liebana, a Maestro Jamonero Cortador (master ham carver), is the owner of this new eatery and delicatessen. 

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Liebana hails directly from Spain where he also worked as a ham carver and caterer, and moved to Ithaca just recently with his wife who is pursuing postdoctoral research at Cornell University.

“I’m so excited to share my culture and my food,” Liebana said. “I feel so welcome by the community and am excited to open.”

Repeating some of the same sentiment about opening a business in trying times, officials present also congratulated Liebana on filling out the DeWitt Mall, a space that has seen a rapid rearranging of storefronts in past months.

“This is such a great location –– a historic mixed use building right in the heart of downtown Ithaca,” Murtagh said.

DIA Executive Director Ferguson added, “I think it will be a great addition and we’re grateful you chose Ithaca, and that you chose the DeWitt Mall.”

Anna Lamb

Anna Lamb is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at alamb@ithacavoice.com