About Us


Credit: Ithaca Journal, ithacajournal.com

Credit: Ithaca Journal, ithacajournal.com

Our Story

Owners Richard Avery and Dean Zervos welcome you to what promises to be a superior casual dining experience. While our chefs carefully prepare your food, we invite you to review our credentials and revisit the history of Simeon’s on the Commons.

Our extensive hospitality background, which began with degrees in the culinary arts and restaurant management, has enabled us to open and manage top restaurants and clubs from New York City to Jacksonville, Florida. We have over forty years of experience and have cooked and hosted events for philanthropists, politicians, and celebrities including Howard Gilman; Bill and Hillary Clinton; Colin Powell; John F. Kennedy, Jr.; and Mikhail Baryshnikov.

As the new owners of Simeon’s, we—along with Dean’s spouse Jamie, a trained pastry chef—commit ourselves to creating high quality food and desserts backed by excellent service. Our goal is to make Simeon’s the restaurant of choice for visitors and Ithacans alike. Our historic building itself may first draw you in, and we are confident the distinctive food and service will encourage you to return.

If you are a first-time visitor to Simeon’s, you may have had an experience similar to the ones that Rich and Dean and their families had on their first visit to the Commons in 2006. After a day of shopping, they started to look for a place to eat dinner. As Rich recalls, “We walked right up to
Simeon’s because it was so inviting. We were really drawn to the building with its unique architecture, the warm red wine color, and gold leaf facade.”

Like Rich, you may have noticed one of Ithaca’s most architecturally significant and recognizable
buildings—a fine example of Italianate architecture. The building that houses Simeon’s is more than 135 years old: erected in 1871 by William H. Griffin. Dean recalls, “We really liked the look of the building, and its location made us feel as if we were in the center of everything. But we were really surprised by the interior space. Talk about ambience!” The detailed plaster relief work, two-inch-thick marble block floor, and the famous plaster angels that adorn the walls were all added in 1923 by Marcus V. Chacona, when the space opened as a soda and candy shop.

By 1930 the soda shop was replaced by a men’s clothing store that occupied the space for more than forty years. But what goes around comes around: when the store was again renovated in 1975, it returned to the original 1920 soda shop theme. The stunning marble bar was installed, past details were rediscovered, and the shop was named Simeon’s—after Simeon Dewitt, Ithaca’s founder and the first Surveyor General of New York State.

In 1986, under the ownership of Alan Cohen (who later served as Mayor of Ithaca), Simeon’s went through another transformation: from a popular tavern to a restaurant. And in 1999 it was sold to Peter Ciferri and Lyn Reitenbach, who carried on the Simeon’s tradition as one of Ithaca’s premier gathering places. When Rich and Dean purchased Simeon’s in the fall of 2007, they decided to keep the name (and the traditions), given the history, uniqueness, and recognition among locals, students and graduates.

You are now sitting at the busiest corner in Ithaca, a location steeped in history and considered by most Ithacans as the best place in town to eat, drink, relax, and people-watch! Imagine: from this vantage, you would have been witness to the introduction of oil lamps, gas-lit street lights, and then electricity; horse-drawn trolleys, Model-T automobiles, and the latest hybrid vehicles; and countless joy-filled parades and festivals. If you watch and listen to the crowd walking by, you may eavesdrop into special moments like ones that you may have experienced: a parent’s last walk with a son or daughter before being dropped off at college, friends laughing and partying, a couple’s first kiss, or the last carefree days of young adulthood just before graduation.

So enjoy: the food, the drink, and the ambience. And if, during your stay with us, you happen to see a spirit or two—in addition to imbibing one or two—don’t worry: it’s just history visiting. . .

And we’ll just call you a cab!