Sylvan Beach landmark reopens following remodel

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SYLVAN BEACH — A staple of the area for years, Captain John’s has reopened and remodeled just in time for New York to enter phase three of reopening amidst the coronavirus.

“We did a lot of remodeling, and we repainted the facility, from top to bottom,” co-owner Andy Brown said. “We couldn’t open during the pandemic, so we took advantage of the time. We just hope our customers will enjoy it.”

Brown continued, saying Key West-type colors were used to give Captain John’s a more lively feel reminiscent of a place off the coast of Florida, with many nautical themed items on display. On top of this, the Tiki Bar was completely redesigned into the Shipwreck Bar and Grill and a new grill menu was put together. Outdoor dining on the patio was also added.

All of this was done within the last 60 days when Captain John’s was supposed to open in April before the pandemic hit.

It was a stressful time when the staff and owners of Captain John’s realized, like many other places, they wouldn’t be able to open due to COVID-19. “We never experienced anything like this before and there was some confusion but we worked to make ends meet and support our employees,” Brown said. “From there, we started coming up with a plan for when we did reopen regarding safety and sanitation while putting out a quality product — all while having fun.”

Brown said Captain John’s staff is excited to reopen and to be part of the community again.

“Seeing so many people on the beach gives us some exciting vibes,” Brown said.

Jackie and Patrick St. Thomas, of Rome, have been coming to Captain John’s for almost 10 years and were happy to be back. The two were right there at 4 p.m. Friday when the doors opened. “We’re good friends with Andy [Brown] and we love the atmosphere,” Jackie said. “It’s a friendly place to come, with good food and drinks. You feel like you’re home.”

Both Jackie and Patrick were impressed by the renovations and enjoyed the whole new atmosphere — especially after months of staying home in the pandemic.

Patrons Toni and David Gnatek echoed those sentiments, have been going to Captain John’s for a few years now — and choosing the Sylvan Beach establishment as their first restaurant to return to.

“The food [is what keeps us coming back],” David said.

“With tonight being their opening night, we figured it would be a good night to start,” Toni said. “This is the first time we’ve been out in three months.”

Toni said she and David had done their best to support their local restaurants but felt it better to be able to come in and sit down to eat.

And as more people come to Captain John’s, the staff has worked to follow all the health and safety guidelines from New York State, beyond just masks and gloves.

“We went through all the recommendations and on top of that, we implemented things like employee training, installed new sinks, new sanitary towel holders, we changed the chemicals we use, and even our hand sanitizer is above what the Center for Disease Control recommended,” Brown said. “We want everyone to feel safe and be safe, including our employees. We’ve gone above and beyond.”

When asked how it felt to run a restaurant during a pandemic, Brown said it has its challenges. A lot needs to be done by staff and by guests. Anyone entering Captain John’s is required to wear a mask until they are seated.

“We certainly believe that if we go above and beyond what we need to, we’re going to be fine,” Brown said. “We’ve got a consistent record from the Oneida County Health Department of being perfect in our inspections and we’re going to maintain that high standard.”

Brown is hopeful and looks forward to the future of this “new normal”. And Jackie agrees with him.

“You know, it’s been very depressing not being able to go out and gather with your friends,” Jackie said. “I hope that this is the start of the new normal.”

For information, visit their website at http://www.captainjohn.com/ or call 315-762-9949

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