OSWEGO — Two years ago, Friendly’s Ice Cream, a landmark restaurant in Oswego for over 40 years, closed its doors on Bridge Street without warning. But by late this year, they may very well be open again, this time as a Tully’s quick-serve, according to Mayor William Barlow and one of Tully’s family owners John Paul Giamartino.
“This is going to be a quick-service Tully’s, not your traditional, sit-down, full-service,” Giamartino said in a recent interview. “There will be a small seating area. We’ll also have a drive-thru.”
Everything about it will be smaller than the 12 full-size Tully’s the family owns and operates in New York state and Pennsylvania.
“It is going to be a smaller menu, slightly different menu,” Giamartino said. “We will have our Tully’s tenders. It’s pretty much chicken-based. It’s not going to be burgers and pasta or anything like that. It’s going to be tenders, fried chicken sandwiches, grilled chicken sandwiches, a couple salads, a couple rice bowls, all with either grilled or chicken tenders on them.”
Oswego will be only the second such Tully’s.
The city won out in Tully’s search to expand by lieu of the Tully’s tender trailer’s success here last summer. It was during that time they discovered the Friendly’s building was vacant and available.
“We currently have one of these types of menus on the campus of Binghamton University,” Giamartino explained. “It’s something that we wanted to venture into with quick service with our Tully’s tenders. We had a very good response over the summer when we had our Tully’s tender trailer parked on the west side of Oswego. We had it there four or five times throughout the summer. The Tully’s tenders trailer is really just chicken tenders with french fries. So, the menu that will go into Oswego’s quick service restaurant will be a little larger than that.”
Tully’s quick-service has been in Binghamton for six years now, and Giamartino said, “we thought this would be a good fit” for Oswego.
“We thought Oswego would be a very good market to try this as there wasn’t any other Tully’s close by,” he said.
Could it ever expand into a full-size Tully’s? “I don’t think that building lends itself to a full-service Tully’s,” Giamartino said, “just with the square footage and parking. So, if we ever did a full-service Tully’s in Oswego, it would have to be a different location.”
Tully’s often repurposes former restaurants rather than build new ones. As a result, they’re all a little different in appearance.
“All Tully’s are a little bit unique in their own way,” Giamartino said, “because we take over existing spaces and kind of use what we’ve got and try to make them all feel like you’re in a Tully’s no matter which one you’re in, but they’re all going to be a little bit different in shape and size. The color scheme, we try to keep the same.”
That philosophy, he said, has “worked so far.”
Tully’s, founded by his father John and uncle David in 1991, first opened in Batavia. It’s still there. There are three Tully’s in Buffalo, four in Syracuse, one in Watertown, one in Vestal, and one in Pennsylvania.
Giamartino estimates the Oswego Tully’s will employ 30 to 45 people. “We’ll be open every day,” he said. The hours of operation aren’t set yet. “We’d like to be open by the end of the year, but we don’t have any drop-dead date yet.”
Friendly’s was leasing the lot Tully’s bought. Tully’s original plan was to lease the lot and building, but they ended up making an offer to purchase it.
“There’s some remodeling that needs to be done, some site work that needs to be done for the drive-thru, things of that nature,” Giamartino said.
He is one of the family-member owners of the company. “We all work very close together on a lot of things,” he said. “We have a couple other concepts that we operate. Coppertop Tavern, Good Buddies Pub, we have the quick service up at Binghamton University, we have a corporate office.”
They also have a catering division. “We all are involved in helping each other out,” Giamartino said. “It’s a family affair and we kind of all try to help in those different areas.” He and his cousin, David, are concentrating on the quick-service Tully’s.
“We are actively looking not only to expand this new quick-service. venture,” he said, “but we are still very much interested in growing the full-service Tully’s as well as the Coppertop Tavern.”
“We’re very excited to be there, and so far, it’s been great working with Mayor Barlow and his team, and we’re looking forward to being part of the community,” Giamartino said.
“We’re thrilled to partner with Tully’s to develop the former Friendly’s property and put the site back into productive use,” Barlow said. “Tully’s will be a wonderful addition to the Oswego community, providing quality food in a fun atmosphere with superb service. I believe the announcement of a Tully’s coming to Oswego is another positive indicator for our community and speaks to the progress being made in Oswego as we see continued growth and private investment. I thank Tully’s for being interested and investing in our city and believe they’ll see strong, immediate support from the Oswego community.”