Popular Collegetown restaurant Miyake will be closed indefinitely after a fire at the restaurant early Wednesday morning caused significant damage to the restaurant’s kitchen, according to the Ithaca Fire Department.
The owners of Miyake, a Japanese eatery on Eddy Street known for its rowdy sake bombing specials and friendly accommodations for large groups, said they hoped to reopen the restaurant’s doors by the end of the semester.
“We have to go through the insurance company and it will not be quick to rebuild. It takes a process and we can’t start construction right away so it will be two or three months maximum,” said Dennis Lee, speaking on behalf of his parents who own the restaurant.
The Ithaca Fire Department responded to an alarm at Miyake at 1:11 a.m. on Wednesday and “discovered and extinguished a kitchen fire involving the stove and vent system” upon their arrival, according to a press release from the IFD. The cause of the fire is not yet known.
The residents of 414-416 Eddy St. were evacuated in the middle of the night on Wednesday due to the fire. Ludwig Holmstrom ’12, who lives above the restaurant on Eddy Street, said he was woken by the smell of smoke around 1 a.m, The Sun reported on Tuesday.
“We got our stuff and went down on the street,” Holmstrom said, adding that he saw “flames at the back” of the building.
Jimmy Wu ’14, who lives one building down from Miyake at 404 Eddy Street described seeing the fire in the distance after being woken up by a roommate who smelled the smoke and alerted his friends.
“I’ve never seen that many fire trucks and ladders extending to a building,” Wu said.
Wu said the fire raised other concerns as well.
“I didn’t feel unsafe when I knew it wasn’t our building, but I was afraid because all of the buildings are relatively old and if it were a wooden structure it could have been easily damaged,” Wu said.
However, city officials said the incident was not necessarily reflective of the building quality in Collegetown. Instead they praised the Ithaca Fire Department for its swift response time and handling of the situation.
“I don’t think that this really speaks to or has an impact on building quality or fire safety issues at Miyake,” said Common Council member, Graham Kerslick (D-4th Ward). “This is unrelated to other fires; as the building was well maintained. I don’t get the sense that this particular incident has anything to do with general building quality.”
Still, Common Council member Eddie Rooker (D-4th Ward) maintained that fire safety has long been a concern for the city.
“Because of the age of the buildings, fire safety is always a question,” Rooker said. “This was an accident and not necessarily a reflection of the quality of the building, but especially with the events of last year fire safety is a huge issue.”
Brian Lo ’11 was killed in a fire at 107 Cook St. last year.
Many undergraduate students and Collegetown residents lamented the closing of Miyake.
“I used to go to Miyake every Tuesday night for double sake bombs and a California roll with my brother and now it's closed,” Jesse Rosenberg ’13 said. “Now where am I going to get my sushi and sake bombs?”
“It’s very unfortunate that Miyake will be closed, as I actually had an event planned there for this weekend,” Wu said.
The School of Hotel Administration postponed a contract with Miyake to provide grab-and-go sushi to Mac’s Cafe and other dining establishments within the Statler.
Signs posted in Mac’s Cafe on Thursday informed students that “due to a fire, Miyake Sushi will not be available for the semester.”
“Miyake supplies prepackaged sushi for us twice a day. We’ve had a great relationship with them and we definitely want to continue a sushi program,” said Gregory Mezey ’09, director of Statler Dining. “I definitely think we want to support those folks who supported us through our strategic partnerships.”
Rosenberg lamented the loss of the sushi at the Statler as a quick and easy lunch option between classes.
“I will starve without Miyake,” she said. “I refuse to wait in line at Mac’s and Terrace because it takes so long and picking up sushi at Mac’s was very convenient for me.”
In lieu of selling Miyake Sushi, Mezey said the Statler will look to partner with Cornell Dining to continue providing sushi in Mac’s Cafe and other Statler locations.