Ok, so by comparison, this winter was/is pretty mild. Compared to some years it’s almost as if it really never arrived. Officially, we have another couple of weeks of winter according to the calendar. But in South Boston as we all know it doesn’t matter what the calendar says. Spring arrives the day Sullivan’s Restaurant or ‘Sully’s’ as it’s so affectionately known to locals opens for business. And this coming Saturday, February 24th, is the very much anticipated day and expected will be the annual onslaught of hungry hordes coming in from far and wide showing up with big smiles and even bigger appetites.
This year, Sully’s will mark and will be its celebrating its 67th year in operation at Castle Island. Sullivan’s has become one of the best known landmarks for miles around. Yes, tourists come to Boston to walk the ‘Freedom Trail’, take a ride on the Duck Tour boats and visit Faneuil Hall, but a trip to Sully’s for some of the finest food around is often on the itinerary whether you come from South Boston or South Dakota.
Most locals know the story of how Sullivan’s came to be. Dan Sullivan Sr. opened it back in 1951. His goal was to give the customers great food for reasonable prices. Add in quick and friendly service and you have the recipe for success. If you’ve ever seen the lines on a warm summer’s day, you know how popular the place is and how quickly a long lines moves.
It’s now 2018 and Sullivan’s has come a long way since it first opened these now nearly seven decades ago. It moved from one part of Castle Island to the other and increased in size as it was rebuilt and remodeled. When you walk through the door you immediately notice that the Sullivan Family has installed state of the art technology for taking your order and serving you even faster than ever. But the food, like always is worth making the trek to the island for because it is so tasty. Each year the menu gets a little bigger. The old standbys are of course their wildly popular hot dogs, hamburgers, fries and onion rings. They have a great sea food selection, chicken, their famous grilled cheese sandwiches and other traditional items you’d expect to see at a restaurant near the beach. But they also have salads, fruit smoothies, ice cream and yogurt treats and a variety of drinks. And what everything on the menu has in common is that all of it is delicious.
Heading to Sullivan’s for a meal, a snack or just for something hot or cold to drink is always a good experience not just for the great food. Being greeted and served by some of the friendliest; most competent staff that can be found anywhere adds to the pleasant experience. As you approach the counter to place your order you are met by some of the nicest people around. Hard workers all. They work as a team, they enjoy their jobs and each other’s company and it shows; no matter how crowded it gets. A past quote from manager, Chris Lane that apparently carries over to every season as well says it all. “I love my job. As General Manager, my proudest accomplishment is watching our employees succeed. For over 25 years, I have worked side by side with owner Brendan Sullivan. We share the same philosophy – we want this to be a place where our employees grow and learn, we provide quality food at reasonable prices and you will want to return again and again.”Chris is absolutely right. The people continue to return year after year.
Then of course there’s Manager Harry Markarian who has been with Sullivan’s for more than 40 years. Harry is that familiar face that so often greets you at the counter with a big smile and hello and even though he deals with thousands of customers; has this amazing ability to remember so many names. His guiding presence at the counter seems to motivate even more, an already motivated staff working hard to serve you and make sure your order comes out just right.
It all comes together at Sullivan’s to make this a truly unique destination. Great food, great service and a great crew to serve you insures that a trip to ‘Sully’s on the Island’ will always be fun and a good experience that as Chris Lane says “will make sure you’ll want to return again and again.”
Last year, the 2017 opening day drew so many people that the crowds lined up stretched from the order and pickup counter all the way back to the Harry McDonough Sailing Center at various times during the day. So massive was the enthusiastic crowd that Boston’s news channels were filming it all from above with helicopters. But even with this many people, the line moved quickly, everyone got served and all left happy. Margaret Tilton, an out of state resident who was a first timer at Sully’s opening day was amazed and innocently asked – “all this for a hot dog stand?” But when she and her family of 5 finished their order of delicious burgers, onion rings soft drinks and a lobster roll, she understood what all the commotion was about and that Sully’s so much more.
Oh, and remember, as is the case every opening week, hot dogs will be half price. See you Saturday.