Brendan Sullivan had about 1,000 pounds of hot dogs and a near endless stock of buns and French fries. People on Castle Island are not yet walking up from the beach in bathing suits and flip-flops, but Sully’s is open—and spring will maybe, at some point, follow.
“We figured, let’s take a chance,” said Sullivan, the owner of Sullivan’s. His grandfather, Dan Sullivan, opened the food stand in 1951. “All this weather, the snow’s just been coming down. I figured, let’s take a chance with Mother Nature.”
All 63 employees ringing up orders, frying clams, and stacking French fries into cardboard boxes this season had worked there last year, Sullivan said. He’ll probably hire a few more, he said, to get his crew up to 70 before the mountains of dirty snow on the city’s streets make way for sunny days and sand castles.
“We might be a little bit rusty today and tomorrow,” Sullivan said. “[But] it’s like riding a bike. You just jump back on.”
Opening day business depends on the weather, Sullivan said. Though snow nor rain nor gloom of night would keep some regulars from coming, warm, sunny days draw the real crowds.
The National Weather Service forecast called for a high of 54 this afternoon, and customers started filling the parking lot and crowding around picnic tables before noon.
Just before 2 p.m., the line of people stretched from the counter and out the door, to the edge of the sidewalk and along the parking lot.
“I heard my mother on the phone saying ‘My son will take me there today,’ while I was still sleeping,” said Michael Anderson, 45, of South Boston. “And what mom wants, she gets.”
Helen Anderson, 71, said the opening could not have come soon enough.
“I was dying for a hot dog,” she said, with onions, mustard, and relish. “All around except for ketchup.”
The hot dogs will be half-price until next weekend. They’re going for 90 cents this year, up from 80 last summer.
Helen Anderson said she had seen a few friends from the neighborhood making their own Sully’s pilgrimages. (“I just said hi,” she said.) But her son said he had seen far fewer familiar people in line.
“It’s not like it used to be. I used to come here, talk to 30, 40 people until I said, enough is enough. Now I don’t even know anybody. Times change,” Michael Anderson said.