I live with my partner, Tahlia, and our dog and four cats in Geneva, New York, which sits on the northern tip of Seneca Lake. We moved to the Finger Lakes region in 2005, settling first in Syracuse, where Tahlia undertook a Master’s degree, and I commuted the sixty-or-so mile trip to Geneva three or four times a week to teach classes at a local college. Initially, Geneva evoked shock and dismay, as we’d come from Los Angeles and could not fathom the existence of a mere three thruway exits on I-90 between Syracuse and Geneva, much less a town that proudly proclaimed itself the “lake trout capital of the world.” But residing in Syracuse, with its more urban feel, served as a good buffer to help us transition from sprawling metropolis to quaint hamlet. We spent three years in the ‘cuse, moved to Iowa City, Iowa, and then back to Rochester, New York, before finally buying a house in Geneva in 2014.
Geneva has changed a lot since our first sight of the Finger Lakes. Although the population has hovered fairly steadily at around 13,000 residents during that time period, and many eateries have come and gone, residential real estate remains affordable, Seneca Lake is beautiful, and there are many efforts under way to make Geneva a more attractive place to live. Several times over the years, the Geneva Business Improvement District received $200,000 grants from the New York Main Street Program to make improvements to downtown building facades and interiors. In 2015, Geneva received the All-America City Award from the National Civic League, in part for having managed a 41.3% improvement in high school graduation rates, and a sixty-percent increase in occupied downtown storefronts. The State of New York recently awarded the City of Geneva a $10 million NY State grant for downtown revitalization, and thus far, over three million dollars has gone into the beautification of our lakefront, including bike paths, a pedestrian bridge over Castle Creek, a gazebo and pavilion, and the lovely lakeside visitors’ center.
Our downtown now features several new, new-ish and highly praised restaurants and watering holes, each emphasizing locally sourced ingredients and talented chefs. A number of more established locales offer consistently good, though not necessarily locally-produced, food. And beyond Geneva, there are more than one hundred wineries along Keuka, Cayuga, and Seneca Lakes, and over 75 microbreweries and various craft beer businesses in the region bordered by Binghamton, Corning, Rochester and Syracuse.
Although Geneva’s residential rental market can be challenging, our best airport is an hour away, and we do lack Thai, Indian, and Vietnamese restaurants (and Mexican establishments are inconsistent), Geneva is a good place to live. The City of Geneva is friendly toward local businesses, foodies can easily find delicious, locally sourced fare, and those who love to cook at home have access to family-owned butchers, and local farms for fruits and veggies as well as for beef, pork and chicken.
Best of all, a sweet little culinary boutique opened in downtown Geneva in October 2018. Tahlia and I, and the owners of Geneva’s Stomping Grounds, have joined forces, and our store, Locavore, features:
- tools for cooking & entertaining
- funky cookbooks and books about food and drink
- locally produced & sourced non-perishable food items, such as honeys, jams, teas, coffees, shrubs, & snacks
- specialty oils, salts, spices & other items
- classes and demos from local growers, producers, chefs, winemakers, & mixologists
We are very excited to embark on this journey and to promote the bounty of the Finger Lakes and the joys of local community.
All in all, L.A. can suck it! Geneva rocks!