OSWEGO TOWN, NY Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Rudy’s welcomed back more than 100 of its closest friends Wednesday.
Even though the calendar says the vernal equinox won’t take place until sometime on March 20, local residents know better. Spring returns when the historic little restaurant nestled on the shore of Lake Ontario at The Loop throws open its doors.
This year, customers were greeted with warm weather and sunshine.
Cars began lining up in front of the eatery more than 90 minutes before its scheduled 10 a.m. opening.
The first “person” in line this year was actually a canine.
Toby, a three-year-old English lab, sat by the front door and waited patiently. His favorite dish is a Rudy’s Texas hot (without onions) with some French fries, noted Grant Davis.
The doors opened at 9:45 a.m., 15 minutes ahead of schedule.
Immediately, hungry patrons placed their orders of French fries, fish and other items as the counter staff shouted the orders back to the cooks.
Toby waited in the car to have his lunch delivered.
Most of the patrons ate their meals inside while others carried their food in cardboard trays out to their vehicles. A few took advantage of the warm weather and enjoyed their repast at a picnic table. A chilly breeze off the lake did little to detract from the excitement of opening day.
Urban legend holds that if a “tardy” high school student returns with some Rudy’s fare for their teachers, they won’t be marked absent.
Kayla Mae Kinney was so excited about opening day, she was singing, “We’re going to Rudy’s. We’re going to Rudy’s,” pretty much the whole day before, according to her lunch dates, Harriett and Louis Gilmore.
“She called me the night before and asked if I was going to take her to Rudy’s,” Louis said. “She loves coming out here.”
It was the third year in a row the youngster was at opening day.
Kayla waited “all winter!” to come back and get some more Rudy’s food, especially French fries, she said.
The restaurant goes through about 30 to 50 cases of its famous Texas hot sauce during the first week they open each year.
Jason Livesey, general manager, said he was glad to see so many people on opening day.
“The kids that were out there first, were there from 8:30 on,” he said. “It’s great to get going again and get to see everyone we haven’t seen all winter. It’s our extended family reunion. We’re looking forward to another great year.Ã¢â‚¬Â
He describes the lakeside landmark as a social area and entertainment as well as great food.
“It’s a great place to come and meet up with friends you haven’t seen in a while or make new friends,” he said.
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 many loyal customers, in Oswego County and beyond.
This year, he is attempting to hold prices to what they were last year in light of the economic times.
“We’re not really changing much this year,” he said. “We are pretty much maxed out as far as what we can add to the menu.