Residents who pass through Downtown Cortland, particularly via the intersection at Main Street and Clinton Avenue, will see something they have not seen in at least 10 years: a restaurant on that corner open for business.
The Asian Delicious restaurant, which opened earlier this month, is housed at 1 Main St., which stood vacant at that location since the Hong Kong Buffet that used to be there closed over a decade ago.
On Thursday, as customers dined in front of windows framing the busy rush hour traffic downtown, John Jiang and Bao Lin were at work in the kitchen while their children, restaurant manager John Jiang and his sister Jenny Lin were working directly with customers.
Speaking on behalf of his parents, the younger John Jiang said Thursday his family came to Cortland by way of Brooklyn to open the restaurant, but added getting the building back in shape was a lot of work.
“When we were outside, everything was fine,” he said. “When we looked at the basement, everything changed.”
Jiang said his family found that nearly the entire basement needed to be renovated before they could get the restaurant up and running again, a process that took a good three or four months to do.
Once that happened, Jiang said his father was the one who decided to put the restaurant’s menu together, which includes Chinese, Thai and Japanese cuisine, an idea he said customers seem to enjoy.
“I’ve heard customers say some good things,” Jiang said.
He added he and his family were aware that the building had been vacant for a while and said in that regard, he viewed the restaurant opening as success for everyone: his family gets a chance to start a new business and the city fills a vacancy.
On Thursday, Mayor Brian Tobin said he viewed the new restaurant not just as a new business.
It is also a key development that once again makes Downtown Cortland more attractive for residents and visitors, he said.
“That property in particular has received a lot of attention since the old restaurant shut down because it is a very visible street corner,” he said.
“Making it occupied again is definitely a plus for the city. I’m excited for the owners. I hope they’re able to do well there.”
Executive Director of the Cortland Downtown Partnership Adam Megivern, who is also alderman for the city’s 7th Ward, said Friday that from his organization’s perspective, having Asian Delicious open in the building that remained vacant was good for a couple of reasons.
Not only does the restaurant’s high-profile location communicate downtown is busy and alive, it may encourage other owners of vacant properties to develop their buildings, too.
“From the downtown perspective, we are very excited to have another restaurant” he said.
“It’s a prime location. Going down the street, it’s the first thing you see. It’s amazing to have that activity, to have a business open there.”
As for Jiang and his family, he said everyone expects to be serving up delicious Asian cuisine on Main Street for a long time and looking forward to being a part of the Cortland community.
“It took a long time to open,” he said. “It won’t be easy to give up.”