January 26, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 30°F

Life & Culture

New restaurant combines modernism with classic cuisine

Coffee pots brew across the counter as customers chat over waffles and omelets. A neon sign hangs on the wall, illuminating the words “The Milkstand” across the restaurant. Warm, inviting, yellow lights line the ceilings, reflecting off the gold silverware placed upon the marble tables. This is the scene of the new neighborhood restaurant spot: The Milkstand.

The Milkstand is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, and is open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. It serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in diner-style options. Crepes, flatbreads and burgers are some of the highlighted menu options. 

Junior Kayla Barry works as a hostess at the restaurant. She says the menu choices help separate the restaurant from other diners in the area. 

“We have a very unique menu,” she said. “The chefs really try to have options for people who are vegetarian, vegan and glutenfree. They know it’s hard for people to eat at restaurants when they need those accommodations.”

Junior Aidan Feldman agrees that the food options are what makes the restaurant special. 

“There are a lot of nicer menu options that are otherwise unavailable in Ithaca,” he said. “The brunch options were great and the restaurant seems a bit more upscale. It’s different from regular diner food.”

Christopher Logue is the executive chef at The Milkstand. He created the menu himself, hoping he could help people have more food options. 

“I know that there is a population in Ithaca that desires to have that food available,” he said. “Most restaurants are kind of lacking in options that cater to people with dietary restrictions or preferences. I wanted people to come and be able to eat whatever they desire.”

“We are open until 9 p.m., so that really sets us apart from other restaurants in the area,” Barry said. “Most diners in the area close early, so we can draw in a crowd of people who want to eat later.” 

Sophomore Sophia Wachtel said the style is what surprised her most about the diner. The decorations in the restaurant include bright, yellow lights hanging down from the ceiling, rose-quartz salt and pepper shakers, gold silverware and marble tables.

“The aesthetic really stood out to me,” she said. “It is very modern looking. It looks very different from the rest of Ithaca. It really reminds me of something I would see in New York City.” 

Logue wants the diner to be the hit breakfast and dinner spot in Ithaca. He said the restaurant offersis fine dining, but does not have the “stuffiness” that comes with most classy restaurants

“My culinary background is in classic French fine diningfine-dining,” he said. “I wanted to make the menu a little more relaxed, like the restaurant, but have really high- quality food at the same time.” 

The owners of The Milkstand are Chris Kim and Soyong Lee. The couple also owns Maru Ramen, a ramen shop located at 512 W State St. The couple actually created many of the decorations in itstheir new restaurant.

“They almost did everything by themselves,” Logue said. “They are very DIY. [Kim] actually hung the lighting, brought in the lamps, painted the walls and mounted the trim on the walls. He also found someone to custom- make the neon sign on the wall.” 

Feldman said this decorated dining area made the restaurant feel more classy.

“The decorations make the restaurant seem a lot more elevated,” he said. “The food also doesn’t appear like diner food, so together it makes a classier brunch option.”

Sophomore Allie Altman said that the restaurant is refreshing to the Ithaca area and that she is excited to return again soon. 

“It is original and so much different from other diners I have seen,” she said. “It was honestly refreshing, I got something new, tried it and loved it.”

The Milkstand had its grand opening Sept. 6. Barry said the restaurant was so busy that it had to close at aboutapproximately 4 p.m., long before its anticipated closing time of 9 p.m. Barry said the early closure was as a result of a backup in the kitchen. 

“It was all just like a trial run basically,” she said. “People were sitting for 45 minutes and weren’t getting their food. We ended up closing and we stopped seating people.”

Barry said that for the first month of the restaurant opening, hosts will seat customers at every other table. This will help with overcrowding in the restaurant and will give the kitchen more time to complete orders. This will also help social distance tables as, due to the fact the restaurant does not have a COVID-19 mask mandate. 

Before The Milkstand opened, the building was home to Byrne Dairy. The Byrne Dairy property was put up for sale in February 2020.  Logue said The Milkstand tries to honor the former dairy shop in many ways—, the name of the restaurant being one of them.

“They could have easily knocked everything down and started over,” Logue said. “I think they really wanted to pay homage to Byrne Dairy and its location. It was such a community center-point for so long. Even the name ‘“The Milkstand’” is a reference to when people could come in and fill their bottles with milk from the dairy.”

The Milkstand also uses many of Byrne Dairy’s products, like its orange juice and milk. This milk is what is used to make Barry’s favorite item at the restaurant: the milkshakes. 

“My favorite item at the restaurant is definitely the milkshakes,” Barry said. “We actually use Byrne Dairy milk. Since it was Byrne Dairy, we try to incorporate little things like that. I also like that the milkshakes come in a milkshake glass. It reminds me of old diners.”