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Cornell's Restaurant in Schenectady's Little Italy closes for good; Coronavirus response cited as tipping point

Cornell's Restaurant in Schenectady's Little Italy closes for good; Coronavirus response cited as tipping point

Revenue loss from shutdown cited as reason
Cornell's Restaurant in Schenectady's Little Italy closes for good; Coronavirus response cited as tipping point
Cornell's Restaurant on North Jay Street in Schenectady has closed for good.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

SCHENECTADY — A venerable Schenectady restaurant has been closed for good.

Cornell's on North Jay Street in Little Italy has closed effective immediately.

“We just couldn’t afford to keep it open,” said co-owner Connie Hume on Wednesday.

Cash flow is a perennial problem in many restaurants, Hume said. But the state directive on Monday ordering bars and restaurants to limit service to takeout and delivery only in an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus proved to be an insurmountable hurdle.

“We cannot do delivery and we do very little takeout,” Hume said. “Under the new guidelines set, there was no way to survive.”

All 24 employees have been let go.

Hume said the decision was difficult, and one that has magnified by releasing staff into an industry battered by abrupt layoffs.

“It’s really a beloved institution and it breaks our heart to see it end,” Hume said. “We loved the food and loved the traditions.”

The restaurant was founded in 1943 by Nicholas and Pasqualina Cornell.

It moved from Van Vranken Avenue to its current Little Italy location in 2003, and was purchased in 2011 by Connie and Jack Hume and George Ryon.

Jack Hume is the former publisher of Gazette Newspapers Co.

“It was our favorite restaurant,” Connie Hume said. “And we were three retirees who loved the restaurant and tried to keep it going.”

The owners would like to sell the venue as a restaurant with everything in place.

“It’s been quite a learning experience,” Hume said. “It’s been gratifying in many respects, and sobering in the reality of the difficulty and challenges that owning a restaurant presents.”

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