Bill Handwerker—grandson of the Nathan’s Famous frankfurter restaurant founder—was not handed life on a bun. He spent youthful summers working at the famed restaurant just like any other employee—setting up for the lunch rush, mopping floors and washing dishes.

“My father and grandfather believed that the only way to really know a business was to learn it from the ground up and actually experience it,” Bill says.

After a character-building, summer-grilling adolescence, Bill followed in his brother’s footsteps to Ithaca College.

“I never wanted a big school—that was critical in my thinking—and I loved the town of Ithaca. I just felt at home there.”

Along with a home, Bill found a family—he met his wife Amy Thalheim on a date set up by his English professor and her psychology professor.

After working for decades at Nathan’s (yes, he did help judge the hot dog eating contest), Bill published Nathan’s Famous: The First 100 Years of America’s Favorite Frankfurter Company.

And Ithaca has continued to be a part of the Handwerker family's story. His father was a college trustee—and the family also provided a gift to open the Handwerker Gallery, an art space on the IC campus that provides an outlet for creative work and intellectual discourse for students and faculty.

"We will always be a part of the Ithaca community,” Bill says.