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Phoenix Sports Restaurant

When you consider the sheer number of offerings on the restaurant’s extensive and extremely tempting menu, and that he is chief cook and delivery person during this period, I knew in a moment I was talking to a pro – and one truly devoted to his business.

The restaurant business requires special care and handling during the best of times – it’s a constant juggling of skills, from the obvious like having a concept and a great menu and a fun and pleasing atmosphere, to the less visible, like ordering the food, hiring and training staff, even seeing to it that codes are met and menus are up-to-date.

While restaurants and bars in New York State are limited in service during this flu season, they are by no means closed. Lattimore, while missing his regular operation, told me, “I try to look at a time like this as an opportunity to re-invent yourself, even if it’s only temporary. We’ve kept every item on our menu – and it’s a big menu – but tried to make the most of our take-out and delivery business working with a skeleton crew.” He also acknowledges that the temporary restrictions mean looking for additional ways to do business. “We offer meals delivered to 3rd shift workers, for example. We’ll deliver to them so it’s hot and fresh, even if that means 2 a.m. Right now we’re delivering to all of Schroeppel, a portion of Clay, also the Baldwinsville-Lysander area, or even further if people call ahead and we can plan on it.”

Lattimore has been in the restaurant business most of his career, owning the Phoenix Sports Restaurant for the last ten years. During “normal” times, the restaurant is a casual, comfortable spot where customers can go for lunch or dinner, and expect a range of food choices – from salads to steaks, fried fish to prime rib, even unusual selections like frog’s legs, liver and onions, Spanish rice and Goulash – their favorite drinks, OTB, 150 TV screens with sports of all kinds, and friendly service. “All of my staff are trained to remember our customers,” Lattimore tells me. “If they have a favorite beer, we’ll have it ready. They’re important to us, and we want them to know it.”

While major event dates – like the Kentucky Derby, a big day for the restaurant – are changed or in flux right now, the location is typically known for catering and parties, and has a steady stream of celebrations and events. It’s similarly famous for a range of “all you can eat” options, including such popular choices as steak, spaghetti and meatballs, wings, and the restaurant’s famous frog’s legs. In fact, whatever you’re in the mood for, chances are the Phoenix will have it. And the portions are generous. “A single serving will give most people dinner and often lunch the next day,” Lattimore says.

Discussing the frog’s legs, Lattimore stressed the importance of area restaurants looking out for one another in this difficult time. “I got a call from another restaurant locally, they know we carry frog’s legs, and needed some to complete an order. We were happy to share. We know it’s going to take some time to get back to our regular routine of business, but in the meantime, we want to make sure our customers are taken care of, enjoy their meals, and stay in the habit of patronizing local restaurants.” He goes on to add that while things make be different for the time being, the “buy local, shop local” emphasis, and the fact that people can’t go out to socialize as easily right now, has actually resulted in new customers finding local restaurants and becoming fans. “I get my own meals a couple times a week from other area restaurants. After cooking and delivering from early morning on, it’s nice to order something someone else has prepared, too, and it’s a way of supporting other restaurants in the area,” Lattimore tells me.

Besides abiding by all the necessary precautions, in an abundance of consideration for customers, each morning Lattimore posts the day’s special offerings on Facebook, posts other area restaurant links to his page, and does not take online ordering. That last is really a concern Lattimore feels for his customers. “I know it’s a busy time, and we’re operating on pick-up and delivery, and as I said, with a small crew. I don’t want people to wait longer than they’d like for their meal. The computer understands how long it takes to prepare a burger and fries, but not how long the wait might be if it’s an unusually busy day. By talking directly to the customer, I can give them an accurate time.”

“I want our customers to know that we’re here for them now, and when all this settles down. We’re really grateful that they’ve been there for us, and we’ll do everything we can to give them the best food and service we can.”

Jamie Wallace