Gazette’s Brian Lee enjoys euphoria, clam strips at first Jumpin’ Jack’s Opening Day

Daily Gazette reporters Brian Lee and Shenandoah Briere wait in line to place on order on their first visit to Jumpin' Jack's Drive-in in Scotia on Thursday.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Daily Gazette reporters Brian Lee and Shenandoah Briere wait in line to place on order on their first visit to Jumpin' Jack's Drive-in in Scotia on Thursday.

SCOTIA — I arrived at Jumpin’ Jack’s Drive-In Thursday morning about 30 minutes before it opened, and could already sense something special in the air.

GAZETTE COVERAGE

Ensure access to everything we do, today and every day, check out our subscribe page at DailyGazette.com/Subscribe

It was opening day for the 69-year-old business, and about a dozen people were already waiting in line or standing by their vehicles.

An assignment editor had asked me and a fellow new-to-the-area Daily Gazette reporter to write first-person accounts about our first time eating at the popular business.

We were told Jumpin’ Jack’s is a local institution, and synonymous with the start of spring.

I found Nancy Guzior of Schenectady sitting in her car, waiting to meet a cousin. Guzior was apparently chomping at the bit to place her order.

“You’ve never been here?” she asked in amazement.

Guzior told me she’s been coming to Jumpin’ Jack’s about 30 years.

“I’ve been waiting for this for months,” she said.

Guzior said that about 20 of her cousins were planning to show up later in the day for dinner — a true family affair.

I asked Guzior what I should order.

“The first time I come I always have a ‘Jack Burger,’ which is a cheeseburger with a hamburger on top, with cole slaw on top of that. Then I usually have fish fries after that.”

I then flagged down the business’ general manager, Mark Lansing, Jr., who spoke of his optimism for the 2021 season, after a challenging 2020 summer during the pandemic.

“I’m hoping it’s going to be a really good one,” he said. “Last summer was tough for us, tough for a lot of people. I’m sure a lot of people had a long, cold difficult winter, and hopefully, us being open, and people getting to come sit outside in the warm weather, that reminds them of better times. Maybe that will make people feel better.”

I suggested to Lansing that it must make him feel good to see the pent-up demand, as the line for orders started to grow and twist.

“It does,” he said. “I’m always a little amazed at the following we have, the fanfare that we get from the locals. It makes me feel good. Just for being a restaurant.”

Also:

At this point my colleagues, reporter Shenandoah Briere and photographer Erica Miller arrived.

I ordered clam strips on a bun because that’s what I almost always got at ice cream stands back home in Massachusetts. I found it to be tangy and not overly greasy.

As I ate, I noticed everyone seemed happy, chatting, petting dogs and having fun.

And because my bosses told me to expense the meal, this was indeed a great start to the day.

Briere ordered a cheeseburger, sweet potato fries and a milkshake, and to my disgust, slathered the burger with copious amounts of ketchup and mustard, which Miller captured in a photo.

I tried to interview Briere, asking for her feedback about the establishment.

But this proved difficult.

“You know this is supposed to be first person, right?” she told me. “You just eat the food and write about it.”

Unfazed, I asked how Jumpin’ Jack’s compared to some of her favorite ice cream stands back in her home area of central New York.

But she continued her militant stance and said she didn’t eat at burger stands back home.

A fellow patron overheard some of our conversation, and asked Briere about the sweet potato fries, which the customer said was a new menu item.

Briere told the patron the fries were “killer” as she continued to dip them in her milkshake.

Also:

GAZETTE COVERAGE

Ensure access to everything we do, today and every day, check out our subscribe page at DailyGazette.com/Subscribe

Categories: News, Schenectady County

Leave a Reply