By Kevin Greer
Lakeside Communications Manager
When Lakeside Pizzeria closed following the Sesquicentennial season, there were concerns and rumors that it may not reopen.
With a new owner and management in place, one of Lakeside’s favorite restaurants, formerly known as Sloopy’s Sports Cafe, will be open during the Total Solar Eclipse weekend (April 5-8) with a limited menu and more items will be added in time for the start of the 2024 Chautauqua season.
“If we don’t open during the eclipse, I really think we’re missing an opportunity,” Lakeside Pizzeria General Manager Tim Walsh said. “I’m not sure what will be on the menu. It comes down to availability with staffing, the equipment and some cosmetic changes we’re working on. With the Fountain Inn completely booked, that’s one reason we want to be open.”
The eatery will close for a couple weeks after the eclipse to finish kitchen restorations. A grill and deep fryer will be installed, making the menu bigger than last season with hamburgers, fries, chicken and other appetizers. Among other items will be sandwiches, soups and salads. They plan to be the only Lakeside restaurant that has chicken wings.
“I tried to offer wings last summer,” Walsh said. “It was a good product, but we hope to take that to the great or excellent level.”
Of course, pizza will be on the menu, but it will be slightly different. Sloopy’s will no longer be part of name, so there will be a new sauce, but the other ingredients will be the same. They’re also looking into the possibility of serving slices as part of the lunch menu.
“The Sloopy’s name is gone and will no longer be on the windows,” Walsh said. “We will just be under a different name than what everybody is used to calling it, but I think the pizza will be an upgrade.”
Other than minor work on the counter space, there won’t be any changes to the dining room, where table service will again be provided. A big alteration will be carryout area, which will be a different entrance on the side of the building along Maple Avenue. Customers will not have to go through the dining room to pick up their orders.
“The carryout room will help alleviate some of the congestion that did exist,” Walsh said. “When you’re enjoying your meal, you don’t need somebody walking through picking up three or four pizzas. There’s a way to make it all work better.”
Walsh is also working with a company on technology upgrades, like online ordering. Another improvement in the works is when there is a wait to be seated, customers will be able to give their phone number and get notified with a call or text when their table is ready. There are also plans for golf cart delivery during the season within the Lakeside gates. Delivery outside the gates won’t be available until the fall at the earliest.
For things to run smoothly, Walsh is looking for people to fill the staff. Anybody interested can send an email to email@example.com. Walsh said some employees from last season, mostly Danbury students, have already agreed to return, but he’s still looking for more employees.
“We had wonderful kids last season and I hope each and every one of them want to come back,” Walsh said. “We just want to make sure that the kids who are here have a great experience.”
Walsh made it clear the restaurant won’t be open for just one season. He said they plan to keep it open all year but will be on a “skeleton schedule” between September and May and likely close during January. The goal is to be open with a full menu a couple weeks after the eclipse.
“We plan to be here for the long haul, and this isn’t a one and done summer,” Walsh said. “Have some patience with us. It will be a quality product, I promise that.”