The Watershed is now open just off the Ithaca Commons

Bringing a philosophy of comfortable and inviting refreshments to a new gathering space in Downtown Ithaca, the Watershed opens this afternoon with a “conversational atmosphere” alongside the “delicious beverages and comfort food.”

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The Watershed’s second-floor space features bar seating, high-top tables, and comfy low seating.

The conversational atmosphere means it’ll be a spot to relax without loud music or a need to shout over a din, and co-owner Ashley Cake says all ages are welcome.

Cake and co-owner Dave Thomas say their philosophy focuses on “responsible alcohol service that fosters a rich and positive conversational interaction between customers, friends, and staff members,” which means they’re working with the Advocacy Center on specialized bartender training “in how to identify and de-escalate potentially harmful interactions between people, particularly folks who are intoxicated.”

A sandwich of Piggery capicola on Ithaca Bakery baguette, and a “Chaseholm” cheese plate with cheese crisps.

A sandwich of Piggery capicola on Ithaca Bakery baguette, and a “Chaseholm” cheese plate with cheese crisps.

The Watershed is more a gathering spot than an eatery, but they do offer snacks along the lines of breads and spreads, cheeses and meats, and some after-dinner sweets. An affordable $5 sandwich features Piggery capicola and Kriemheld butter on Ithaca Bakery baguette, and a $7 Chaseholm cheese plate includes some tasty gems. Pick rice crackers, cheese crisps, or a hunk of baguette to go with your cheese for an additional $2.

Cake is a well-known local cocktailier, having served happy customers at spots like Argos Inn, Coltivare, and Madeline’s before working with friends to open the bar of her dreams, and the drink menu includes a short but varied list of featured cocktails, as well as wines and bubblies from near and far, local and worldwide beers and ciders, coffees, and an impressive (if not unparalleled for downtown Ithaca) list of teas and herbal infusions.

The bar’s owners took advantage of already being well known around the community, and of the anticipation among friends and customers, by holding a creative “community supported hospitality” crowdfunding campaign this summer to bring in early capital to buy everything from glasses and cocktail shakers to mahogany stools and high-end bar dishwashers.

For their “grand opening” weekend, the Watershed is opening at noon both Saturday and Sunday. They’ll be closed December 24th, 25th, and 28th, closed New Year’s Eve, and open on New Year’s Day. Their normal hours will be 4pm-1am, seven days a week, at 121 West State Street, just a couple of doors west of the State Theatre.

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