SCOITA — People will be able to tune in a “Jackburger” — and other summer favorites — at Jumpin’ Jack’s in Scotia Tuesday.
Jack’s back. The celebrated drive-in restaurant’s spring opening comes nearly six weeks later than normal, as owners and customers have stayed home to stay away from the coronavirus.
It will not be business as usual on Schonowee Avenue when the grill starts smoking at 11 a.m.
“It’s going to be a lot different,” said Mark Lansing Jr., the restaurant’s general manager.
“We asking all the customers to stay in their cars,” Lansing said. “We’re broadcasting at 1000 AM, information for them, phone numbers they need to call, they’re ordering their food from the car. We have our new phone numbers posted on the front windows of our ice cream building.”
When orders are ready for pickup, customers will be notified over the “Jack” radio station. They’ll drive their cars and trucks behind the food building.
“We’ll have people running back and forth bringing them their food,” Lansing said.
Orders for ice cream and milkshakes will also be phoned in.
“At this point, we’re not doing walkups,” Lansing said. “We don’t have our bathrooms open for customers at this point. And we’re asking everybody to have their masks on when they pull around to get their food.”
Several other local ice cream and summer food spots have opened in recent weeks. On Thursday, Ben & Jerry’s in Saratoga Springs will open for curbside service, with phone orders accepted at 518-584-3740. There will be no inside service, and safety guidelines — masks, gloves, social distancing — will be in effect. Ben & Jerry’s will be open daily from 2 until 9 p.m.
Lansing, who said he heard the question, “When is Jumpin’ Jack’s opening?” many times, said he and his team are now confident with the service plan in place.
“We finally feel confident that this is a plan that works for us,” Lansing said.
The comfort factor is a key part of the plan.
“People have different levels of comfort out in public these days,” Lansing said. “Some people are used to the masks, some people are used to the social distancing, some people are less comfortable in public in general.
“We feel your car is your bubble, you feel safe,” he added. “You can stay in the car, we’ll get more customers, people will be happy, people will come out.”
About 20 employees will be on the job Tuesday. Men and women on the grills, at the fryers and by the ice cream dispensers will all wear masks. Latex gloves have always been standard issue at the restaurant.
“We’re taking employees’ temperatures when they show up every day and we’re documenting that,” Lansing said. “Anybody that shows signs of any fever or doesn’t feel well goes home immediately and then we’re going to check in with them daily, track how they’re going.”
A full menu will not be available.
“We’re not offering dinners, wings, steak sandwiches or grilled chicken,” Lansing said. “You can still get fish fries, clam fries, shrimp fries, Jackburgers, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, sausage and peppers. Most of the menu is still there. We just eliminated some things we thought would be a bottleneck for us getting the customers through quickly.
“Once we get it all figured out, we can expend our menu back to its full offering,” Lansing added. “We don’t want to stumble for the opener, we don’t know what to expect with the new system.”
Another change: For now, Jumpin’ Jack’s will be open daily from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. Late-night hours have been eliminated.
One tradition will remain. A container will be on the premises in case people want to give change or extra coins to the “Jack” team. Faithful ones know whenever the restaurant crew receives a tip, a rousing cry of “Subway!” is the acknowledgment and sign of gratitude.
“Just them showing up is good enough for us,” Lansing said of customers. “We will have something they can drop their change into, whatever they’ve got. We much appreciate it.”
If the grill crew, fry team and cashiers see the donation, “Subway!” will happen.
“We’ll do our best to holler it out so they can hear it,” Lansing said.
Contact staff writer Jeff Wilkin at 518-641-8400 or at [email protected]