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Three small businesses begin operations in downtown Ithaca

By Traci DeLore

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Adam Grill is one of three new businesses that have started operations in downtown Ithaca. (PHOTO CREDIT: DOWNTOWN ITHACA ALLIANCE)

ITHACA, N.Y. — Two eateries and a waxing salon are now conducting business in downtown Ithaca.

The businesses are Lev Kitchen, Adam Grill, and the Pretty Peach Wax Studio. 

Representatives from the City of Ithaca, Downtown Ithaca Alliance (DIA), and Tompkins Chamber participated in April 22 ribbon-cutting ceremonies held at each of the businesses, DIA said.

“We are delighted to welcome these three businesses to our community,” Gary Ferguson, executive director of the Downtown Ithaca Alliance, said. “Each one of them brings a unique experience to our area, and we hope the community will enjoy the dining experiences at Adam Grill and The Lev Kitchen and will try the self-care services at The Pretty Peach. We thank each of them for their investment, and we look forward to seeing them thrive and grow.” 

About the businesses 

Lev Kitchen is among three new businesses that have started operations in downtown Ithaca and that were acknowledged with April 22 ribbon cuttings. (PHOTO CREDIT: DOWNTOWN ITHACA ALLIANCE)

Lev Kitchen, located at 222 E. State St. on the Ithaca Commons, specializes in Middle Eastern cuisine. Its concept is inspired by a Yemeni flatbread called Malawach and the amalgamation of distinctive cuisines and cultures from countries such as Israel, Lebanon, and Syria, as described in the DIA announcement.

Benjamin Plotke and Yen Wu — both Cornell University School of Hotel Administration graduates — are the owners of this new eatery. 

For its employees, the couple works with Ithaca Welcomes Refugees; Open Doors English; and Catholic Charities to obtain referrals for people who may be struggling to find a job due to language or cultural barriers. 

The story of Adam Grill began in Ithaca two years ago when owner Galal Hassanien (aka Jimmy) brought his family and street-food business from Brooklyn to the Ithaca Commons. Late in 2021, the business found a new home in Center Ithaca’s food court. The eatery focuses on Halal food items such as gyros, kebabs, rice bowls, falafel, and other popular Mediterranean dishes. Souad Azzouay, Galal’s wife, prepares the fresh baklava available daily. Adam Grill also serves other fresh baked goods, such as muffins and croissants, as well, DIA said.

The Pretty Peach Wax Studio, which launched in Syracuse, has added a second location in Ithaca. (PHOTO CREDIT: DOWNTOWN ITHACA ALLIANCE)

The Pretty Peach Wax Studio has a team of estheticians that treat their clients to an array of body-waxing services. Joy Draper is the creator and owner of the Pretty Peach, which has its flagship location in Syracuse. 

Prior to starting the Pretty Peach, Draper worked in the pharmaceutical industry, but she eventually got “tired of corporate America” and decided to start her own business, DIA said. In 2017, she obtained her waxing certification from Shear Ego International School in Rochester. A year later, she launched the Pretty Peach. 

“Once again, the vibrancy of our community has been improved by inspiring entrepreneurs such as Joy, Jimmy, and Ben & Yen — adding quality products and services to our mix of locally owned businesses,” Jennifer Taveres, president and CEO of the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce, said.