Proprietor Doug Lalone took over this Syracuse landmark three years ago and toughed out the city to keep the original aluminum trolley car looking just as a diner should. On Friday, July 18th he will debut his fourth dining room- the patio. This enclosed space will bring his seating capacity to 170 and is available for parties and other catered events. The celebration of the new space will coincide with their Nationals Party, sponsored by Budweiser. Doug expects a huge crowd for the event- fans of the cars and of his restaurant.
The Gem offers a true diner menu and experience — breakfast, lunch or dinner, a full ice-cream menu and a pie selection that will knock your socks off. . . plus a hearty “order up!” coming out of the kitchen from one of his sons and cook Anthony. I have to say, the new Gem is a heck of a lot cleaner and brighter than the old one. The floors and the counters have all been redone. Dinner specials the night we were there included a melt-in-your mouth pot roast that tasted just like my mom’s. The goulash had that homemade taste as well.
Our server Amanda Piedmonte said that liver-and-onion lovers loved their liver-and-onions; but I can’t help you out on that one, sorry. The spinach and feta burger my husband inhaled dripped all over the classic onion rings and required multiple napkins. Lalone told us they serve about 2,000 burgers a week. The fried scallops were sweet, plump and juicy. We surrendered our resistance and annihilated a humongous piece of raspberry pie with whipped cream provided by the Geddes Bakery.
Atmosphere at the Gem is all about family. Any one of Lalone’s six children could be wandering about at any time, including the resident mayor of the place, Ben, his youngest. Ben kept the wait staff peppered with questions and oh-so-helpful suggestions while we were there. You will often see riders stopping in while their Harley’s are being serviced down the road and Doug told us he has a large Canadian following as well.
On August 2nd Lalone’s charity, The Compassionate Warriors Project, will produce “Benny’s Lost 80’s Bash,” a concert featuring such legendary bands as A Flock of Seagulls and Naked Eyes to benefit the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund. 100% of the profits from this endeavor will be donated to the Fund with nothing taken out for administrative costs. The event will take place at the SRC Arena on the campus of Onondaga Community College, rain or shine. Get more information on the event from www.bennysbash.com.
832 Liberty Street
Syracuse, NY 13204
Tue 6:00 am – 10:00 pm
Wed 6:00 am – 10:00 pm
Thu 6:00 am – 10:00 pm
Fri 6:00 am – 10:00 pm
Sat 6:00 am – 10:00 pm
Sun 6:00 am – 8:00 pm
Favorite: A slice of warmed-up raspberry pie with whipped cream after a pot roast dinner; that brought me way back in time.
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