This year marks a special anniversary for one of downtown Ithaca’s most beloved and renowned institutions: Moosewood Restaurant. Forty years ago, Moosewood opened in the ground floor of the Dewitt Mall as a small, collectively-owned vegetarian eatery when meatless cuisine was considered a fringe novelty. Today, Moosewood is a driving force in the world of creative natural-foods cooking with thirteen internationally-acclaimed cookbooks and a place on Bon Appétìt Magazine’s list of the “thirteen most influential restaurants of the 20th century.” Downtown Ithaca, and specifically the Dewitt Mall, remains Moosewood’s one and only home.
Says Gary Ferguson, Executive Director of the Downtown Ithaca Alliance, “Moosewood means so much to downtown and to the entire Ithaca community. If there is an anchor for our downtown restaurant community, it would surely be Moosewood.” Adds Vicki Taylor Brous, Associate Director, “Moosewood is a great place with an amazing sense of community. It’s also one of Ithaca’s most recognizable ambassadors to the world – I even had one of their cookbooks growing up in the Southern Highlands of Australia.”
Susan Harville, a founding member of the Moosewood collective, explains that while Moosewood has become an international phenomenon, its downtown roots are strong. “Moosewood feels very much a part of the downtown Ithaca culture. Much of our dinner business is out-of-town visitors, but our lunch crowd is almost all downtown people. They like to come here because our menu changes every day. Another reason that Moosewood has survived and thrived for forty years is the supportive atmosphere of the Dewitt Mall. The owners have always championed the businesses there and many have been around for nearly as long as we have. Everyone helps each other to succeed.”
Moosewood is celebrating its anniversary through the year. Moosewood serves lunch starting at 11:30 AM Monday-Saturday and dinner starting at 5:30 daily. Dining is first-come first-serve. The Dewitt Mall is located one block off the Ithaca Commons at 215 North Cayuga Street.