News Source: www.ithaca.com
New event space and wedding venue opening in Interlaken
News Source/Courtesy: www.ithaca.com

When Joe Silker decided to become the new owner of the Busy Bee, a waterfront cafe and market located on Cayuga Lake in Interlaken, he did not  have much time to think about it.

“I was just looking for a lake house for myself for my own enjoyment, and there wasn’t a lot that was on the market that was very attractive to me,” said Silker, who resides in Ulysses. “I had been a customer of Busy Bee for years and enjoyed the place and decided on a whim to check it out and see if there was something I could do with it.”

It turned out the sellers were highly motivated, and by the end of the day he was the proud owner of a closed down store, complete with the beer still in the fridge.

But the rushed nature of the transaction turned out not to matter—Silker easily envisioned a new future for the spacious newer buildings, historic lakeside cabins and scenic grounds, and its transformation into Cayuga Shoreline seemed meant to be.

There are two separate and distinct commercial buildings—one with a wraparound porch and a kitchen and one large, open building that serves as the main event space. Several small cottages serve as guest houses. Couples renting the space for a wedding will be able to enjoy everything the property has to offer, and it has been renovated to provide a clean, modern, yet rustic backdrop for all types of celebrations, Silker said.

How much money has he put into the place? He declined to give numbers but did say, “probably more than I paid for the property.”

Silker is the president and CEO of Renovus Solar, a solar energy equipment supplier headquartered in Ulysses, and though it might seem like a lot for the leader of a thriving company to take on, he jokes that Cayuga Shoreline is just his own (very time consuming) “hobby.”

The property is steeped in local history. Prior to the Busy Bee it was a bar and restaurant called Kidders Landing, but long before that the farmhouse on site was the home of the captain of the Busy Bee Ferry, which operated out of the point next door throughout the late 1800s. The captain made more than 40,000 trips across Cayuga Lake on the ferry, powered in part by a team of horses. Parts of the boat are still visible at the bottom of the lake by the dock.

Last summer, when Silker’s plans to open Cayuga Shoreline were derailed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Silker came up with a creative way to utilize the space and hosted popup restaurant Supernatural.

“That was fun,” Silker said. “It was a fun learning experience and good for the space, good for the area, even if it was only a temporary endeavor.”

Silker is currently setting up events for the spring and finalizing his liquor permitting. He said he will prioritize weddings and other large events but plans to fill in Cayuga Shoreline’s calendar by hosting public events of his own throughout the year.

“Not as a seven-days-a-week kind of place but definitely a place where people can go and gather and meet up with different members of the community and enjoy the property,” he explained.

Silker has lived in Ulysses for six years and resided in the Ithaca area for 15 years prior to that. He said he is greatly looking forward to being part of the Interlaken community.

“I’ve had an incredibly warm response from the neighborhood,” he said. “Everyone kind of feels some sense of ownership over [the location] one way or another—either they’ve worked there, or they met their wife there—everyone seems to have a story about why that place is important to them.”

“I genuinely love the property,” he added. He saw its potential right away, he said, and one of the biggest projects he has taken on since buying it is taking out some of the old trees.

“I had to remove things that choked out the property and prevented it from being what it really wanted to be,” he said. “I opened up space on the lawn and tried to let it breathe. I’m thrilled with how it came out.”

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News Source: www.ithaca.com

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