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The Gem | The Preserve

When I got in touch with Doug LaLone to catch up on what’s new at The Gem and The Preserve at 405, he was out snow-plowing. And I can’t say I was surprised. After all, it’s November and this is Syracuse – though that invisible wall just north of the city did its magic this year, and kept most of the snow from the first big fall of the season north of the city proper. But mainly, talking to LaLone while he was busy plowing snow just reminds me that the LaLone family are energetic and hard-working people. And, LaLone says, they have surrounded themselves with a “working family” that shares that ethic, and for whom, as LaLone tells me, they are very grateful.

“In times like these,” LaLone says, “our employees, and of course our great loyal customers, have kept us thriving.”

The “Little” Gem is a Syracuse landmark. I recall when our family first came to Syracuse, from Buffalo, my new friends were quick to let me know that I hadn’t really moved to town until I’d been to The Gem. Having breakfast at The Gem was a rite of passage. You were “Syracuse” once you’d enjoyed a heaping helping of “fretatta.” For me, though, any diner that offers biscuits and cream gravy has my undying affection.

The Gem first opened back in 1950, and was reopened in 2011 by Doug LaLone and wife Tammy following its purchase by Montreal Construction. They were soon joined in the business by son, Anthony, who today runs the Gem – from the kitchen, LaLone points out. “When Tammy and I ran the place, it was from the front end. But now Anthony is head cook and manages the restaurant at the same time. But he’s hitting it out of the park, and we’re really proud of him.”

And clearly the customers are happy, as well. You can drive by The Gem any time it’s open and expect to see the parking lot full, and the seats inside full of smiling, chatting, happy diners busy tackling a breakfast, a burger, a specialty sandwich, a salad, or a plateful of “the best wings in town.” 

In 2018, Len Montreal came to the LaLone family with an idea for a restaurant in the developing Inner Harbor area. And The Preserve at 405 was soon a reality – an upscale location serving pub-meets-fine-dining cuisine, enhanced by specialty and seasonal cocktails, wines, and a range of draft and bottled beers.

Asked about the success of both locations, LaLone doesn’t have to think long. “The people,” he answers. “Our staff – who are incredible. Some of these people have been with us for a long time, and when things got challenging, these people chose to stay with it, to really pitch in and make it happen. So we didn’t just survive, we continued to pack both places. We couldn’t be more thankful and proud of our staff, and happy that we can keep serving our friends and neighbors the best food we can offer.” And, LaLone continues, that as of January 1, 2023, the LaLones will celebrate their son Anthony, the next generation, taking the helm of the family business.

He adds that he and Tammy love to visit other restaurants in the area, and make it part of their weekly “fun times” to enjoy some of the other Central New York restaurant traditions. “We love going out and enjoying a great ‘home-cooked’ meal, too. We love the food, and the tradition. Restaurants are part of the character of a place, and relaxing over great food makes life fun.”

The Gem:

Tuesday – Thursday:  6am – 3pm; Friday 6am – 8pm; Saturday & Sunday: 6am – 3pm


832 Spencer St.

Syracuse, NY 13204

(315) 314-7380

Located on the west side of Syracuse, just five minutes down the road from Destiny USA.

The Preserve at 405

Tuesday – Saturday Noon – 9pm

Sunday & Monday – Closed


Nancy Roberts