OSWEGO TOWN, NY – The calendar says Spring arrives on Thursday. But more than 100 area residents know better. Spring arrived today (March 19) with the opening of Rudy’s.
Local residents know Spring returns as soon as the historic little restaurant nestled on the shore of Lake Ontario at The Loop throws open its doors.
“Everything tastes better on opening day,” one of the first customers said. “Then it tastes even better during the summer!”
More than a dozen cars lined up in front of the eatery shortly before its scheduled 10 a.m. opening. By 10 a.m., close to three dozen patrons had already been served.
The first patron to place an order again this season was Debbie Gilmore.
Last year was the first time she had been the very first. She had been out early doing errands.
For years, her daughter came to opening day with her around lunchtime.
This year she is in school and has a perfect attendance record.
“So I wouldn’t let her skip and come here, Gilmore said. “I’m in trouble. She’s so upset with me that she ‘grounded’ me.”
Garrison Earl, 2, continued his life-long tradition of attending opening day at Rudy’s.
“When he was just three months old, he came to his first opening day,” his grandmother, Ann Tuanley, told Oswego County Today. “He gets so excited when you say we’re going to Rudy’s. His traditional meal is a Texas hot and fries (with gravy to dip them in).”
Tunaley has been coming to Rudy’s since 1962, “So it’s in (Garrison’s) blood and his four-month-old brother’s (Caster), too,” she explained.
Collecting lake rocks, or throwing them back into the water is another Rudy’s tradition, she added.
“One year, we got some paint and painted them and put them out in th eyard around the garden,” she said. “Don’t think we’re going down near the water for a few more weeks, at least.”
After the initial rush, there was a brief lull until close to 11 a.m. Then, the parking lot resembled a hot August night, with vehicles parked out front and stretching along the lakeshore. Lines at the counter were three deep at times.
The lines didn’t last long as patrons, hungry to shake off the winter doldrums with some summer fare, placed their orders of French fries, fish, Texas hots and other items as the counter staff shouted the orders back to the cooks, who unfailingly memorized the orders and cooked each to perfection within minutes.
Almost everyone ate their meals inside. Some carried their food in cardboard trays out to their vehicles. Nobody dined at one of the picnic tables overlooking the frozen waves on Lake Ontario. Signs were posted all around warning patrons to stay off the ice.
Opening day is kind of trial run for the summer when things really get busy, said Jason Livesey, general manager.
It’s always fun when the first group comes in, he said. It’s like welcoming your family back home, he added.
One of the traditional favorites is the Texas hot sauce. The restaurant can go through 50 or more cases of it during the first week they open each year.
Garrison did his part. The youngster order a Texas hot. But started gobbling down his fries first; they were fresh from the frier and steaming hot but that didn’t slow him down much.
Rudy’s was opened in 1946 by Marie and Rudy Gadziala. It began as an open-air stand, later expanding and adding indoor seating.
Rudy’s second cousin, Brad Livesey with his wife, Carol (Jason’s parents), bought the restaurant when Gadziala died in 1976.
Brad and Carol began working at Rudy’s in 1960; Brad died in July of 2005.
Jason credits the success of the business to its staff and many loyal customers.
For more information, visit http://rudyshot.com/ or visit them on Facebook.