Celebrating 75 years of an Ithaca family business this weekend

It’s not every day a family business gets to celebrate its 75th anniversary, so we’re joining in this weekend’s festivities for Triphammer Wines & Spirits. The business is celebrating with a storewide sale and tasting event this Saturday afternoon.

Crowley's Liquor Store opened on South Cayuga Street in 1941.

Crowley’s Liquor Store opened on South Cayuga Street in 1941. Photo courtesy Julie Crowley.

“My grandfather, Al Crowley, founded Crowley’s Liquor Store in 1941,” says current owner Julie Crowley, who moved back to Ithaca in 2002 to take over the business.

Al Crowley decided he wanted a change of pace after years in the restaurant business, and sold the successful Crowley’s Restaurant in 1940. When he opened his new liquor store in 1941, at 222 1/2 South Cayuga Street, roughly where the lobby of the Hotel Ithaca sits now, he brought a loyal following with him.

“As a kid,” Julie tells us, “I knew this was a business that my grandparents started, that it was a family business.” When Al became sick, his wife Margaret took over with help from Julie’s dad, Bob Crowley.

After the store spent twenty years in Downtown Ithaca, Bob took over in 1962, and with mother Margaret’s blessings, moved the business up to the brand new Triphammer Plaza. The family rebranded the store as Triphammer Liquors and expanded a couple of times. “Bob proved to be an astute businessman, growing the business from a small liquor store to a significant retailer of both wines and spirits that evolved with the trending interests locally and nationwide,” says Julie. It wasn’t until she returned in 2002 that the family business moved into the space vacated by the A&P supermarket.

Not long after, the family business also expanded by buying Gourmet’s Delight, the cute but sleepy gourmet shop that had been their neighbor in the Triphammer Mall for decades, and renaming it to the Ithaca Coffee Company. As it did in its previous incarnation, the store still sells a wide variety of cheeses and other gourmet foods, as well as premium coffees and teas and the implements with which to prepare them. But the business, which moved to the front of the Triphammer Marketplace, soon began roasting its own coffee, set up an espresso bar to offer fresh coffee drinks, before long added bottles and six-packs of craft beer, and then opened a second retail location at the new Gateway Commons building in Downtown Ithaca.

Moving both stores into the vacant A&P space “was an opportunity to grow the business, and keep the business in the family,” Julie tells us. “I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to do just that, and keep it in the family.”

“Triphammer Wines and Spirits has been around a long time thanks to the support of this community, and we love opening our doors and creating a welcoming atmosphere for everyone to join us in celebration,” says marketing director Aaron Rovitz. He says the event “really highlights two of the driving forces behind our store: community and customer education,” the opportunity for customers to sample new things.

Three wines celebrating Three Generations of a family-owned business.

Three wines celebrating Three Generations of a family-owned business.

Rovitz says there will be over 100 wines to sample at the anniversary event, including three brand new wines being released in honor of the store’s anniversary. There’s a Three Generations Red Blend, Three Generations Seyval Blanc, and Three Generations Brut Sparkling Wine.

“We see any opportunity to provide customers with the chance to sample new products as incredibly valuable,” says Rovitz. “This is why we installed our new Wine Stations for daily tastings, and host our weekly Friday, and sometimes Saturday, wine tastings. We want to provide customers with a chance to explore their palate, and try something they might not have considered without the opportunity to taste it first.” Many of the store’s tastings from week to week feature one local winery or another, such as Treleaven or Six Mile Creek or Hosmer, as well as collections of wines from around the world.

The free storewide tasting event at Triphammer Wines & Spirits is from 4-7pm this Saturday, April 9th, at the Triphammer Marketplace in the Village of Lansing. The first 100 customers at the event can enter to win a $100 gift card.

“For any business to exist for 75 years is a feat, and I am proud to be a part of our family business that has stood the test of time,” says Julie. We’ll drink to that.

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