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Eating Outdoors

Restaurant owners: Offering outside dining challenging, but rewarding

June 6, 2010
By KAYLEIGH KARUTIS, The Leader-Herald

With wintry weather finally a thing of the past, for now at least, local restaurateurs are eagerly setting up tables and chairs on decks and patios as customers demand an outdoor eating experience.

It's an offering local restaurant managers say customers appreciate, especially once the sun comes out and the weather warms. Providing outdoor seating, though, is not without its challenges.

Local restaurants who offer outdoor eating also must deal with inclement weather, bugs and temperature changes. It's worth the work, though, most say.

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan

Rail Yard Restaurant of Gloversville waitress Dana Calabrese, center, serves seafood salads during lunch hour to patrons Amy Bugaj, left, of Gloversville, and Doris Carvill, right, of Punta Gorda, Florida, outside at the restaurant on Wednesday.

"Once you break that 70-degree mark, people come in with spring fever," said Helen Botch, manager of the Rail Yard Restaurant in Gloversville.

The Rail Yard offers both a covered outdoor patio and an open-air patio, she said. The patio additions were put on about seven or eight years ago, she said. She said creating the additions was just the "natural progression" of the restaurant.

"It's just good to have the option," she said. "The sun coverage is good for some people and then there are tables with no coverage that other people like."

At Lanzi's on the Lake in Mayfield, patrons can choose from a raised and covered patio overlooking the Great Sacandaga Lake, or they can sit on the lower patio with no covering. In addition to being out in the fresh air, customers also enjoy the unique view the restaurant offers, said Larry Lanzi.

"It's a big plus for us. People love it," he said. "People come from all over the world and say the view from the patio is one of the prettiest they've ever seen."

The restaurant has portable heaters to place outside if there is a chill in the air, and citronella candles to keep the bugs at bay. The area must be swept and cleaned regularly, since it's exposed to the elements.

Handling customers who need to come indoors because of rain usually isn't an issue, Lanzi said. Restaurant employees keep a close eye on the weather forecast and do not allow patrons to sit outdoors if it looks like a storm might roll in. If something unexpected does come up, though, there is a banquet hall for customers to relocate to, Lanzi said.

Larry Lanzi's brother, Anthony Lanzi, owner of Sport Island Pub in Northville, said his establishment operates in a similar way. If patrons on the deck need to come inside, there is an upstairs banquet area that can accommodate 150 people.

The deck area was included in the design of the restaurant when it was built about 12 years ago, he said.

"It's really about the whole experience," Anthony Lanzi said. "It's just nice to sit outdoors this time of year to enjoy the food and the scenery. We have good food, but when you eat outside in great weather, it becomes great."

The pub can accommodate about 100 to 120 people outside, Anthony Lanzi said. On busy weekends when the weather is nice, usually it's full, he said. Boaters can dock their boats right in front of the pub and walk in from the water, he said. Heaters and citronella candles on tiki torches are also provided when necessary, he said.

"We're pretty able to handle the crowds. Our menu is a bit quicker and is based more on convenience instead of a long, fine dining experience," he said. "We take care of people pretty well."

Kayleigh Karutis covers Gloversville news. She can be reached at



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