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Coltivare expected to see a rise in business after winter months

Despite seeing a surge of business at its grand opening in December, local bistro Coltivare has seen less business during the winter months, but is expected to get another surge after the cold weather ends.

The restaurant is busiest on the weekends. Patrons fill nearly all the 32 tables offered in the space, according to assistant general manager Barry Palmer.  Coltivare director Denis Boucher attributed the size of the crowds in the restaurant to the cold weather.

“January is traditionally the slowest business [month] for Ithaca,” said Boucher.

Other restaurants in the area have seen similar results.  Unsal Ayer, owner of the Istanbul Turkish Kitchen in Ithaca said the volume expected in his restaurant is dependent on the season.  Generally, business is slower between December and February.

Despite the slow winter business, Coltivare still sees between 150-200 people on Friday and Saturday nights.  This is double the average size of the crowd during the weekdays and weeknights.

“We can look forward to maximizing our capacity at approximately 240 guests a night in the coming months,” explained Boucher.

Local bistro Coltivare appeals to hundreds, especially on the weekends. The staff support student learning and community feedback
Local bistro Coltivare appeals to hundreds, especially on the weekends. The staff support student learning and community feedback

One of the main complaints from the public about Coltivare is the lack of diversity on the menu.  Deanna Burman, an Ithaca resident who ate a Coltivare recently, said that adding some variety to the menu could help bring in more people.  Boucher, and the staff at Coltivare addressed the complaint.

“We’ve also added things to our menu because we are discovering things Ithaca wants as we open,” said Boucher.  “As we opened, there was a big cry for more vegetarian and vegan items. We then accommodated by adding a vegan area to the menu and then highlighting all the vegetarian things that were integrated into the menu as well.”

Though Coltivare is expected to see a surge in business when the cold weather ends, the restaurant is not expected to make a profit until next year.

“We’re hoping to break even, but there are lots of factors that go into opening a restaurant,” Denis Boucher, Director for Coltivare, said. “ [There is] a lot of turnover, a lot of training dollars that go into training your staff. But after that you try to right-size your restaurant so you have the right amount of staff for the right amount of people that patronize your restaurant.”

Coltivare applied for, and received a $2.3 million dollar Regional Economic Development Grant prior to its grand opening in December to help fund the start up costs of the restaurant. In addition, Arthur Kuckes, owner of Vector Magnetics, donated $2 million dollars to Coltivare. Most of this money went to funding the culinary and farming programs offered at TC3, and helped pay for the staff needed to run the restaurant.

“We got $2.3 million basically to bring jobs to the Southern Tier, to this area. Had we not applied for it, who knows where that grant would have gone?  So we’re really fortunate to bring that grant money to Ithaca,” explained Boucher.

Coltivare supports student learning, but the restaurant is not dependent on the students themselves.  In addition to the students at Coltivare, there is a professional staff of 50 employees said Peter Voorhees, public relations representative for TC3.  This includes the chefs, servers, bartenders, hostesses and managers.

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