Five businesses win Downtown Ithaca’s Race for the Space II

Halal butcher shop/grocery store claims top prize

Five new retailers will join Downtown Ithaca’s vibrant business community very soon as a result of the Downtown Ithaca Alliance’s and Urban Core LLC’s Race for the Space II competition.

DIA Executive Director Gary Ferguson and Urban Core LLC’s John Guttridge announced the highly competitive retail business contest’s five winners during a special press conference held Thursday at Ithaca’s City Hall. The five finalists business plans were selected from a field of 17 business proposals submitted this past Fall.

Halal Meat and Groceries, a butcher shop and convenience store targeting international residents from Middle Eastern countries and the Gulf states, claimed the contest’s top prize.

As the winner, Halal receives a one-year rental free space located in the Press Bay Court project, at 110 W. Green Street, which is currently being built by Urban Core LLC and adjacent to the successful Press Bay Alley retail complex, also owned and managed by Urban Core. Halal also garnered a $4,500 cash award to assist with the build out.

The new Halal shop will feature an expansive selection of high quality local halal meats, international foods, spices, and more, according to the business plan created by store owner Abdul Jalil.

Race for the Space Group shot copy

Race for the Space winners Layne Dann (Gee June Bridal), Laila Begum (Halal Meat & Groceries), Kristen Dutcher (Hair Color Art), Amy Cohen and Kiera Carman (One Ring Donuts) pose with Press Bay Court developer John Guttridge, center, and Downtown Ithaca Alliance Executive Director Gary Ferguson, far right.

Along with the one year of free rent and cash, Halal Meat and Groceries will also receive monthly technical assistance and support from a team of marketing, financial, and small business experts who have agreed to work with them to help bolster their opportunity for success. It is important to note Halal was also required to sign a multi-year lease — with the first year being the free year.

Race for the Space II’s four runner-ups are Gee June Bridal Shop; One Ring Donuts, Rogue Donuts; and Hair• Color • Art. Each of these businesses received a cash prize to assist with their business built out and also signed a multi-year lease for space at downtown locations.
Gee June Bridal Shop, One Ring Donuts, and Hair • Color • Art will also open in the new Press Bay Court project. Rogue Donuts is currently working on finalizing a lease at another location in downtown.

For the Race for the Space II competition, each business submitted preliminary applications followed by a complete business proposal then, lastly, completed in-person presentations to the selection jury.

“We believe these finalists will add to downtown’s vibrancy, diversity, and all-inclusive culture. Their business plans are very impressive and we look forward to working with each of them,” says DIA Executive Director Gary Ferguson.

Guttridge adds, “We’re definitely excited about adding a Halal butcher shop and grocery store to our thriving West Green Street block. Halal’s services will fill a need in the community and will draw new customers to our area. All of these businesses that were selected through this competition will be excellent additions to the downtown community.”

Each of the Race for the Space II winning businesses is expected to open later this year. Keep an eye out for business opening announcements from the DIA. For additional information about Race for the Space II, visit or call the DIA at (607) 277-8679.


ABOUT HALAL MEAT AND GROCERIES: Halal Meat and Groceries, a butcher shop and convenience store targeting international residents from Middle Eastern countries and the Gulf states, will feature an selection of high quality local meats, international foods, spices, and more. Halal will be located on the 100 block of W. State Street in Downtown Ithaca.

ABOUT GEE JUNE BRIDAL: Gee June Bridal is an experiential bridal boutique where its founder and owner Layne Dann handmakes custom designed, vintage, repurposed, and eco-friendly wedding inspired apparel and accessories for a bride and their wedding party. Dann currently works out of a Homer, NY location and also completes custom work at Fibers in the Dewitt Mall.  The shop will have a brick and mortar location in Downtown Ithaca in the Spring of 2018. Additional information is available at

ABOUT ONE RING DONUTS: One Ring Donuts will serve many varieties of freshly baked donuts made with high quality ingredients. Many flavors and toppings will be available. One Ring Donuts will be owned and operated by Kiera Carman and Amy Cohen.

ABOUT ROUGE DONUTS: Rouge Donuts is a retail shop and bakery that will serve freshly baked donuts, including gluten-free and vegan options, cakes, breakfast sandwiches and coffee-type beverages in a casual, cafe setting. Rouge Donuts will be locally owned and operated and is currently working on their location.

ABOUT HAIR • COLOR • ART: Hair • Color • Art provides top-quality hair services for all ages in a creative, welcoming, community- supporting studio space. Our services include cuts, colors, intense colors, styles for special occasions and products for hair. Guest providers will offer additional services including makeup artistry and specialty styling (dread locks, specialty braiding, etc.). More information is available at