Sweet Memories: Feast of Saint Andy marks 15 years since restaurateur’s passing

Fifteen years feels like forever, but it also feels like just yesterday. Fifteen years ago tomorrow, Andy Castrenze died. The longtime owner of Andy’s 3rd Street Cafe passed away just a few months after his eponymous restaurant closed.

Andy Castrenze, right, with an unnamed waitress at the Cafe in the mid '90s. Photo courtesy of Joe Scaglione III.

Andy Castrenze, right, with an unnamed waitress at the Cafe in the mid ’90s. Photo courtesy of Joe Scaglione III.

Andy’s, in the plaza at the corner of Route 13 and 3rd Street that now features Red Feet Wine and Papa John’s Pizza, offered decadent breakfasts, comfort-food dinners, and for its last few years, live music and a bar.

Gone, but not forgotten?

Michael Shappe, a onetime Ithaca resident who moved out of town a while back, has observed the anniversary of Andy’s passing each August since 2003 by celebrating The Feast of Saint Andy and Jane — Andy’s ex-wife Jane Castrenze continued to run the eatery with him.

“All of their food was good, but I was especially fond of their decadent breakfast options, like the stuffed french toast,” Shappe says, calling Andy’s a “Lost Temple of Decadent Breakfast,” and “one of the things I still remember fondly from my eight years in Ithaca. So, now, I make it a personal observance to go out and find a good, absurdly decadent breakfast to commemorate the anniversary of Andy’s passing.”

That stuffed french toast was a sandwich of two slabs of french toast with sweetened cream cheese between them, topped with strawberries or other fruit.

Lifelong Ithaca resident Joe Scaglione III recalls stopping by Andy’s in the evenings to chat. “Andy was a great friend. Always a cool guy. We would talk about old Ithaca and the fun times back in that era,” he tells us. “He is one person that had a great personality that cannot ever be duplicated.”

Andy's 3rd Street CafeIn our 10th anniversary feature back in 2009, 14850 Dining talked about the eateries that had closed over the course of that first decade of the 2000s, and we wrapped up with Andy’s, “an old favorite we can barely believe has been closed for almost the whole decade.”

We still miss Andy’s, and after fifteen years, we still miss Andy Castrenze.

Wherever you are this weekend, join us in the Feast of Saint Andy and Jane by cooking or seeking the most decadent breakfast you can imagine.

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