ITHACA, N.Y. –– Representatives from the City of Ithaca, the Downtown Ithaca Alliance and the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce came together on Thursday morning to celebrate the opening of two new local businesses with a ribbon-cutting.

The new businesses being highlighted in the ceremony were Shoji Arts massage salon located on the third floor of 120 N. Aurora St. and the new Greenhouse Cafe and Cocktail Lounge in the former Nikki Green space at 320 E. State St.

Shoji Arts, which is owned and operated by Shayna Rose Grajo, specializes in Shiatsu and Thai massage which are “holistic, intuitive styles of healing from the East.”

“Finally, as someone who identifies as Asian American or Filipina-American during a time where anti-Asian hate has been on the rise nationally, it is important for me to uphold the therapeutic value and treasured resources of the wisdom of the East, as the modalities of shiatsu and Thai massage stem from Japan, Zen, and Traditional Chinese Medicine; and Thailand, Theravada Buddhism, and Ayurveda; respectively,” Grajo said

The officials present included Mayor Svante Myrick, DIA Executive Director Gary Ferguson and DIA board member John Guttridge, who took turns congratulating Grajo and praising her for her entrepreneurship during a difficult year.

“To some it might seem like a strange time to get started, but you’re starting a place where you’re going to be growing and I think that’s a good thing,” DIA Executive Director Gary Ferguson said. “And we are delighted that so many businesses like yourself have decided to start at this point in time. It’s you recognizing what this community can do for you and of what you can do for it.”

DIA Board Chair John Guttridge added, “what makes this community so special is the fabric of all these small entrepreneurs who do interesting, creative things that make this a place that’s unlike any other. And so you’re now a part of that puzzle and part of this community.”

The second business, the Greenhouse Cafe and Cocktail Lounge, is a farm-to-table establishment owned by Tim Gammons, an Ithaca food-service veteran and Jacky Falkenberg, the owner of the former Nikki Green. Like Nikki Green, the menu includes vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options, but unlike the old spot now includes meat options and an all-new cocktail menu.

The new venture hopes to find success on the newly renovated city corner –– in past reporting by 14850.com, Falkenberg mentioned that City Centre construction and other development in the area may have played a part in the business’ downfall. Now with the dust settled, city leaders and business purveyors hope prosperity can extend beyond the Commons.

“I was very excited to find out who was taking over what I find to be the most exciting corner of downtown Ithaca right now,” Myrick said. “(With) Argo’s new life, the Canopy being open, obviously, City Centre right across the street, the Bike Bar next door, the Marriott, and on and on and on…I think this is the right person, the right model and the right place to jump in and take advantage of the great opportunities that exist.” 

Gary Ferguson added, “this was not a block we were proud of –– one-story buildings and parking lots. All of a sudden this place has a whole lot of personality and a whole lot of fun businesses. We’re excited to have you take over this place and really make it into a real destination.”

“I’m happy to be here,” Gammons said in response.

See inside the new businesses below: 

Anna Lamb

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