Snow fell softly, dropping a thin film of white in the parking lot of Nicky Doodles in North Utica.
It didn’t have time to gather on the lids of the 3-gallon tubs of Hershey’s Ice Cream quickly making its way through the door from the back of a truck.
Driver Rob Lillie looked at the restaurant’s Operations Manager Nick Twomey and pointed to a tub on the top of the pile on his dolly.
“We got this new flavor, do you want it in the back?” Twomey, 25, glanced at the lid of the tub of peanut butter pretzel and pointed to the front of the store.
“No, let’s put that up in the room.”
The tub would find itself nestled in the cooled drawers of the stand’s ice cream room, softening for its big season opening reveal this weekend.
The last few weeks began the choreography that is opening Nicky Doodles.
“People, our returning customers, like to say that us opening is a sure sign of spring,” said Twomey, whose four-location family business has been in the Mohawk Valley in one form or another for 15 years.
Seasonal businesses in the area are shaking off the dust and making their way out of hibernation, thawing for the start of a new season.
Operators of the businesses are excited to get the season under way but hope that good weather will prevail for their early spring openings.
Reopening isn’t just firing up the grills and unlocking the doors. Many of the local stands spend weeks stocking pantries and freezers, getting equipment in working order and preparing for the next few months.
Running a business that stays open for only part of the year has its advantages and disadvantages.
On one hand, a profit can’t be made in the winter months when windows are shuttered, but overhead expenses such as property taxes last all year long.
“We like to hear the cash register ring,” said Kenton Voss, operations manager of Voss’s Bar-B-Q in Yorkville, which is set to open at 11 a.m. Sunday, April 7. “All winter we’ve been paying out money.”
Voss warned, however, that just setting up an early opening day just to hear that ringing isn’t a smart idea if the weather can’t back up the business.
“There are some people who decide to just open in a break in the weather, but we want to have all our ducks in a row to be ready and open, to be ready to go,” he said.
Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomics, a food industry research and consulting firm based in Chicago, said climate is a large determining factor in the success of seasonal businesses, especially in the Northeast.
But having the winter hibernation, unlike year-round eateries, allows workers and owners to renew their energy, as well as building up customers’ anticipation for their summertime favorites.
“You’ve got that pent-up demand,” he said. “You’ve got to remind the people, ‘We’ve been away from you long enough and it’s time to come back.’”
You’ve got that pent-up demand.; You’ve got to remind the people, ‘We’ve been away from you long enough and it’s time to come back.’” DARREN TRISTANO executive vice president of Technomics, a food-industry research and consulting firm based in Chicago