ITHACA, N.Y. –– Serendipity Catering is bringing their outdoor dining space back to the public this weekend with their new 2021 menu and plans for outdoor events. The outdoor restaurant, The Backlot, will be opening on Thursday, April 1st for the 2021 season. Featuring socially distanced tables and seating, as well as an online ordering menu and contactless payment, the South Hill restaurant is looking forward to the spring opening.

“When you get out of the winter thaw here, everybody is just excited to see each other in general, so, especially this year, I think people are really [eager] to get out there and see everybody,” said Alex Kearns-Apuya, Serendipity’s Sales Manager.

The Backlot team is excited to feature live music this year, bringing bands like The Sim Redmond Band to the space. According to Serendipity’s press release,  musical acts are scheduled for Fridays and Saturdays from 5:00pm to 8:00pm and most will not have a cover charge – The Sim Redmond Band is scheduled for July 24th, check out their calendar of events on their website.

In addition to many musical performances, The Backlot is bringing a new menu to the spring opening. “We weren’t open for the spring last year, so this has been a new season for our chef to play around with some of those [new spring] ideas,” said Kearns-Apuya. The food comes from Serendipity’s own local farm, started a few years ago by owner Stephanie Holzaur’s husband in Mecklenburg, and from local vendors and distributors. According to the press release there are “many new offerings to the menu while retaining many of the fan favorites from last season.” In addition, the menu includes “vegan and gluten-free offerings, as well as options for kids.”

The Backlot will also be featuring a beverage menu with local beer, wine and a variety of mixed drinks, which will be updated throughout the season.

The Backlot opened in August 2020 in order to combat the decline of traditional catering business, and while the outdoor dining has been a successful way to connect with the public during the COVID-19 pandemic, it may not continue in this iteration beyond this year. “What we may look at doing is expanding it to more of an event space that’s tailored to say our normal range of catered events,” said Kearns-Apuya.

Regardless of future plans,The Backlot is eager to welcome guests back to its outdoor location this season. With more firepits, an updated online ordering system and an updated backyard set-up, Kearns-Apuya said they’re ready to learn from last season and create an even better experience for their customers in 2021.

This season’s hours of operation will be from 4:00pm to 9:00pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. There will also be a variety of special events including Cinco de Mayo and Mother’s Day, with menu specials for each holiday. The Backlot will also be hosting an Ithaca College Commencement watch party on Sunday, May 23rd, allowing for a socially distant celebration right across the street from the college.

In addition to their outdoor dining, The Backlot will also offer to-go and delivery service through Ithaca To Go and GrubHub.