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Rudy’s Lakeside

“It isn’t summer ‘til we stop by Rudy’s and have fish fry by the lake.” That’s a common theme that runs through the comments about Rudy’s on the “Guest Book” of their website. People who have fond memories of summer on Lake Ontario, and their visits to Rudy’s – which dates back to the 40’s – and who still return, no matter how far away they may have strayed, every chance they get, to make summer – summer!

Open from lunch to 9pm, Rudy’s is now in its 76th summer and has remained a family business since it opened. The first restaurant was opened by Rudy Gadziala and his wife, Marie, in 1946, the business passed to the current owner’s parents, Brad and Carol Livesey, and is now owned and operated by Jason Livesey.

Talking with Livesey recently, we mulled over that very idea of continuity, experiences, changes, and the idea of “local.” All these have become part of people’s everyday concerns and conversations – and none more so than for local small business.

“We want to give our customers, new and regulars, the very best experience possible. To be part of their summer rituals and something they look forward to,” Livesey said. “But for small business, it’s harder and harder to know how to plan.”

Rudy’s, like most food service businesses, had to adjust to the pandemic restrictions, and did so with customary concern for customer satisfaction. You now have three options for ordering. Call ahead if you’re close or on-site, select a time slot for pick up, and you’ll get a notice on your phone that your order is ready – you can drive through or pick it up at the window.

If you want to ponder your choices – or you have a lot of tastes to cater to – you might prefer going to https://rudyslakeside.revelup.online/store/1 to make your selections. You’ll get a time estimate, and be notified by cell phone when your order is ready, and your pick-up options are the same.

Or, if you prefer to walk up for your order, you’ll be given a buzzer to notify you when your meal is ready. Meantime, you may want to take in the view of Lake Ontario, or stake out a seat on one of the many picnic tables nearby.

Another challenge is, of course, sourcing and pricing the food. Rudy’s has had a “close to home” policy for obtaining fresh, locally-sourced food, cooked with a determination to please. The emphasis, naturally, is on fish; tender, flaky, cooked-just-right fish. The haddock is never frozen, the beef is locally sourced, the hot dogs are Hoffman hots, and their special Texas Hot Sauce is a recipe perfected by Marie Gadziala, and it’s one of those special items that keeps people coming back. But, as Livesey explained, “Just like when we all go to the grocery store these days and come away with a version of sticker shock, we’re experiencing price changes, and that makes it hard to plan.” He observed that it isn’t just the increases that make it difficult for a small operation to obtain, prepare, and serve great meals, it’s the recent unpredictability of the small business climate. Still, Rudy’s is determined to give customers that “Rudy’s experience” that means so much for their summer.

“And it’s been a great summer,” says Livesey. “We’ve had wonderful weather, it’s been sunny and bright by the lake, and you can’t beat the view and the breezes off the lake, especially when it’s as warm as it’s been.”

As we talked, we couldn’t help but focus on the idea of “normal,” and what that means to a business whose customers return not just for the delicious food (and that is a guarantee) but who have been longing for just that – a touchpoint in their lives that says “summer is here, Rudy’s is open, and yes, there have been changes in the way you order, but the tastes, smells, sights, and sounds are Rudy’s!” While Livesey is as uncertain as the rest of us what normal will be in a post-pandemic world, his focus is on continuing to bring us all the very best Rudy’s experience possible.

As he’s noted before, with humor and a nod to his father who taught him the business, “I cook fish. But I’m the best fish cook you know.”

Rudy’s Lakeside

78 County Route 89, Oswego, N.Y. 13126


Open daily 11am-9pm CLOSED TUESDAYS

Season: Opens Wednesday closest to St. Patrick’s Day in March, Closes Columbus Day Monday in October

Summer Season: Memorial Day – Labor Day


Nancy Roberts