Downtown Ithaca’s Bandwagon Brewpub opened in the basement of historic Clinton Hall in December, 2009, and as they plan to close the eatery in February, the owners are “inviting the Ithaca community to join us down at the brewpub, raise a pint, and help us close it out with a bang.”
The restaurant’s last night will be Valentine’s Day — Wednesday, February 14th. After that, the owners will focus solely on their farm brewery and tasting room in Interlaken. Owner and chef Will Olson says, “Closing this chapter is bittersweet, but our goal has always been to operate a production brewery.”
At the beginning, Olson and co-owners Nick Antczak, Alex Johnson, and Michael Johnson operated the tiny basement eatery with tiny batches of beer brewed in the kitchen, and they soon expanded into the next-door basement space for brewing and additional bar seating.
Throughout its eight years, Bandwagon has focused on farm-fresh local and regional food, and specialized in local spirits, in addition to the hyperlocal beer and craft beer from around the state and beyond. They’ve always offered burgers made with local beef, and cured the bacon themselves to put on top. Salads featured local produce and goat cheese.
As the brewing capacity grew, so did the beer lineup, and Bandwagon rolled out specialty beers like “Svante’s Legislative Session IPA,” named for Mayor Svante Myrick and developed based on his beer tastes. The Mayor’s campaign office had been right upstairs, so he and his friends were Bandwagon fans from the beginning.
Bandwagon also started offering their beer to other local eateries, says co-owner Antczak, such as the Ithaca Ale House, Northstar Public House, Atlas Bowl, and Joe’s Restaurant.
They’ve had tastings right outside during such events as Downtown Ithaca’s Chili Cookoff for years, and have added tastings and sales at the Ithaca Farmers Market as well as a beer “CSA,” allowing fans to pre-pay for discounted monthly growlers. Bandwagon’s High Step Weizenbock was even named Best New York State Beer at the statewide Tap NY festival in 2012.
For the last couple of years, the crew has been working on renovating and opening an historic 1870s barn in Interlaken as their production brewery, and last summer opened a public tasting room and event space at the brewery. The summer and fall featured a series of musical events with food trucks on hand to complement the beers. It’s an official New York State Farm Brewery, using local ingredients in beer production, and the tasting room is open to the public Friday through Sunday for the winter.
If you’d like to visit the downtown, downstairs brewpub one last time, or several last times, Bandwagon’s restaurant will be open Tuesday through Saturday nights through February 14th. “The menu has evolved over the last eight years,” says Olson, “and we will be bringing back some old favorites here in the last few weeks.”
Co-owner Alex Johnson adds, “We really want to thank our customers for their support, and of course, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to our hardworking staff.”
Find them at Bandwagonbeer.com or under the yellow awning at 114 North Cayuga Street, or call 607-319-0699 and tell them you heard about them here.