ITHACA, N.Y.—There’s a new gallery in town. It’s called The Gallery.

Fred Horowitz is the founder and owner of The Gallery, the former One Ring Donuts shop in Press Bay Court on Green Street in Ithaca, and he and chef Dan Medina, a Groton native, have transformed the donut shop into a multi-faceted community dining and art experience.

Originally from Los Angeles, Horowitz said that his background is in Korean, Mexican and American/Jewish cuisines and that he likes the connection that donuts provide as an accessible way to fill a need and meet the community.

In 2021, Horowitz finished up his master’s programs in hotel management at Cornell University, then decided he wanted to be more community-focused rather than corporate. After being introduced by a mutual friend, Medina and Horowitz decided to go into business together.

“We didn’t want to let the donut dream die,” Horowitz said, adding that LA is the donut capital of the country. “You find these little, family-run donut shops everywhere that really do it old school.”

Initially reopening in early October, Horowitz and Medina have been creating specialty donuts, booking popup shows in collaboration with the Downtown Ithaca Alliance’s Gallery Night and hosting local cider and coffee tastings.

Though they both have culinary backgrounds, Horowitz and Medina said there was a steep learning curve with dough and lots of donut concepts ended in “disappointing donut-fries” or glaze that broke three hours into serving.

While donuts are still a focus, The Gallery also showcases local artists’ work, and Medina “shows people what a good dinner out should be” with weekly Chef’s Table dining events.

The Chef’s Table dinners consist of a five-course meal with a fixed menu (one vegetarian and one not) and wine pairing, the inspiration for the events coming from Medina’s background in studying cuisines all over the U.S. and presenting dinner events.

With a northeastern theme, the first course on the standard menu is a foie gras donut (surprise) with smoked maple buttercream, pickled cherries and black garlic dust.

“Is it dessert, is it savory? It lets you know you’re in for something special,” Medina said. “We’re kind of taking techniques from other cuisines. It sparks the creativity and demands you reach further to come up with something that’ll still blow minds.”

The pair is always on the hunt for local artists to be featured in their shop, and the dinner events are open to the public. The events are open to the public as well and ticket prices will be determined in the future.

“We approach this with a community concept,” Horowitz said. “We want it to be community driven, we want it to be accessible — culinary can be exclusionary and intimidating, and we didn’t want it to come across as something that has barriers to entry. First and foremost, we want there to always be something happening here.”

More official programmatic upgrades will be made to the art show portion of The Gallery as the year progresses, but Medina and Horowitz are excited to bring more event offerings to the community.

“People have been extremely generous with us — if we have a hiccup, if we have to do a second batch, the community gives us good feedback,” Horowitz said. We’re really, really grateful for people being extremely encouraging, we have lots of industry friends coming in giving us the tough love.”

For now, the community can count on donut Saturdays, collaborations with local community partners for events and weekly dinners. Medina said that the goal is to have The Gallery’s donuts in place that the community already goes.

The donut menu has the classics like vanilla glazed and chocolate iced, plus fancy offerings like a cherry cordial donut, a cranberry orange donut and a Latke donut with apple sauce glaze.

Currently, The Gallery is open regular hours on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., during the First Friday Gallery Nights (the next one is this Friday, Dec. 2, from 5 to 8 p.m.) and during additional events the space puts on, like the upcoming Artisan Market from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec. 17 and the December Holiday Food Market from 2 to 6 p.m. on Dec. 22.

“We want people to let us know where they want to see us. We’ve been approached by a lot of really, really cool people about bringing donuts into spaces that you don’t usually see donuts. The donut for us is a canvas, and we can collaborate and bring partnerships in the form of a ring,” Medina said.

Medina and Horowitz said that they are hoping to be able to build out local partnerships to source ingredients locally come spring. “Please tell us where to source ingredients, it’s hard to know where to source going into winter,” Horowitz said with a laugh. “We’re excited about getting as much locally as possible.”

The pair at The Gallery is also dabbling with various other products: take-home Cafe De Olla coffee kits and donut-scented candles, which are both available for sale. Horowitz also said that a Sunday brunch program may also be in the shop’s future.

Ana Celeste and Via Carpenter complete their mural on the front of The Gallery. (Photo by Casey Martin)

Tying into the art component that The Gallery channels is the mural on the front of the building. Ana Celeste and Via Carpenter are the sisters and artists behind that mural, and the two got connected to The Gallery after working with Ithaca Murals.

Ana designed the line work of the mural digitally, incorporating symbols like the uprising fist to symbolize Black Lives Matter, the Seneca deer symbol and other symbols important to Ithaca.

While Via has been working around the community for a while, this is Ana’s second large mural. “It’s been a crazy time, it took longer than I thought it would,” Ana said. “I hope to do more stuff with other local artists.”

“Originally we just had a ‘g’ in the center for The Gallery, but it wasn’t really what we wanted. I thought, ‘what about a galaxy?’ and then we wanted to incorporate motion,” Via said. “I work really quickly and Ana works really meticulously, so us together, it’s a good duo.”

Outside of their mural work, Via runs Via’s Cookies, a local cookie business, and Ana attends Cornell University.

The Gallery plans to add another mural inside the shop in the future, Ana and Via will work on that project as well.

The Gallery is located in Press Bay Court at 114 West Green Street.

Correction: The dinners mentioned in this article take place weekly rather than monthly as the original version stated, and hours of The Gallery’s upcoming events have been added.

Zoë Freer-Hessler

Zoë Freer-Hessler is the digital editor/reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Joining in November 2021, she has covered a wide range of topics related to local news. She can be reached at zhessler@ithacavoice.com,...