Joe’s owner expanding hospitality business into larger location

By Rob Montana
Tompkins Weekly

Photo by Rob Montana / Tompkins Weekly
The former home of Booker’s Backyard BBQ in Lansing will soon be the headquarters and event venue for H&J Hospitality.

Jamie Ciaschi’s catering business was growing, and he was in need of more space for his operation.
But finding the right space was key for his H&J Hospitality (he also owns Joe’s Restaurant), as it needed to have a kitchen and room for office space.

Having already sold his previous hospitality office space, Ciaschi struck gold with a location on East Shore Drive – the former home of Booker’s Backyard BBQ – that had what he wanted and then some. Not only does it feature a kitchen and room for office space, it was another aspect that really drew Ciaschi in.
“It gives me a new location to offer events to my customers,” he said. “That’s what made this attractive to me.
“I have business in Ithaca and Auburn, and this location is ideal for customers,” Ciaschi added. “It offers a unique venue for all the customers – both the wedding and regular corporate customers – I have in the community.”

He was quick to note that the location would not be a restaurant, but would be a space people hosting events could utilize for their gatherings.

And though the acquisition is official, it will still be 4-5 months before it is up and running. Renovations will take place inside and out of the building, and Ciaschi has a clear vision for what it will be once the work is complete.
“We’re going to be obviously adding our office space there, and enlarging the back dining room,” he said. “It is going to be noticeably different on the exterior; we’ll be expanding parking on the north side of the property, re-landscaping, resurfacing the parking lot that is there now. It’s going to offer some unique things in the way of outdoor event space other facilities don’t have.
“We’re going to be putting in an outdoor deck off the back of the building, which will connect to the back dining room. It will be a covered deck, it will have an awning over it for outdoor seating,” Ciaschi added. “We’re also going to have glass doors installed all along the back dining room – glass sliding doors will improve the view. We will have total indoor-outdoor seating for about 100-120 people for events.”

Because he plans for the venue to serve as an outdoor events venue, the plans also call for the installation of a decorative white fence about 20-25 feet from the roadway that will create a barrier and offer privacy. That outdoor space will include enough space for a tented area for outdoor events that will be able to seat 200 people – in addition to the deck seating space.
“The pond is also going to be cleaned up and renovated, which will be a nice feature for the property,” said Ciaschi. “We will put a lit fountain in it so in the evening there will be light in the pond; it will be a nice enhancement. There will be a gazebo by the pond, which will be nice for outdoor weddings and other events we’re going to have.”

While there will be renovations to the kitchen, he said the bar would be kept as is.
“The previous owner did a good job keeping the unique feel of the bar, so we’re going to keep it the way he set it up,” Ciaschi said.

In anticipation of the work, he has had preliminary conversation with the Village of Lansing about his plans and noted the venue is already cleared for use as an event facility.
“The only thing I will have to get approval on is parking changes; there will be no structural changes made to the building,” Ciaschi said. “The village has my plan and there was a building permit opened when I acquired the property.”

When the work is done, Ciaschi said it will be ready for all comers.
“It will be available as a venue for anyone who wants to hold a large scale event, 100 guests or more,” he said. “We won’t be catering for groups that have smaller events than that.
“We will do some community events with the Chamber, but it will be more of the Cornell events,” Ciaschi added. “I do a lot of business with Cornell already – family outings and corporate events.”

In addition to Joe’s and H&J, Ciaschi also runs the Emerson Park Pavilion in Auburn and works with the Geneva Events Center.