Tully's Irish Pub and Dublin Grill (Photos by Tom Parker)
Taste of the Irish in St. Marys
When Joseph and Janice Trummer left the Lake Placid region of upstate New York almost 20 years ago, it was to follow their religious tenets, leaving their home and families a half-continent behind at Saranac Lake. They settled down in St. Marys, home to St. Mary’s Academy & College, a traditional Roman Catholic school operated by the Society of St. Pius X. It was a package deal, church services with Latin mass and an educational program focused on a conservative Roman Catholic lifestyle. That they now own and operate a pub may seem farfetched; they prefer to emphasize not the alcoholic beverages the pub serves, but what separate their business from others: ambiance and a killer menu.
“You can say it’s a bar,” Joseph says with a slight wince; “but a great deal of emphasis is on the food.”
In fact, the Trummers changed the name of the business when they purchased it last year—a move designed to reflect that emphasis. What was once Tully’s Pub and Pizzeria, a popular hangout on the main street of St. Marys, became Tully’s Irish Pub and Dublin Grill. It might not seem like a huge difference, but the menu is telling.
Tully's Owner Joseph Trummer
Tully’s as a pizzeria had a narrow kitchen squeezed around a massive pizza oven. The Trummers evicted the oven and replaced it with a full commercial kitchen; and since space was at a premium, they added a preparation room upstairs, accessible from the kitchen. To continue the pizza tradition, they installed a more efficient and smaller oven. “I like to think we improved on the pizza, too,” Joseph says.
The Crew at Tully's
Now, Tully’s as a Dublin Grill serves appetizers, steaks, salads, soups and sandwiches, and even includes a children’s menu. Smoked pork loin, brisket and turkey sandwiches are available until 4 p.m. on Monday through Saturday, all smoked onsite. And house specialities include homemade potato chips (highly recommended) and the famous Dublin cheese steak sandwich, with strips of beef marinated in Guinness and seasonings, and sauteed onions, peppers and mushrooms, sprinkled with cheese and served on a sourdough bun.
There is something almost divine in the food. And that, too, might seem farfetched considering that Joseph is a floor installer by trade. But years ago the Trummers dabbled in catering, mostly at parties at home and abroad, usually for around 30 guests or so. “We just took that mentality and translated it into a bigger scale,” Joseph says.
It’s also a plus that Janice was taught to cook from scratch and that her grandmother, Florence Brown, was a personal cook for New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller. As a teenager Janice was used to cooking for company. She was told she “had the touch,” that ineffable, mystical quality where the correct combination of food and spice is intuitively understood. That touch may well have been passed down to one of the Trummers’ seven children: Jacob, 16, has concocted one of the most popular condiments on the menu—Jake’s Mustard Sauce.
Tully's assortment of ales, lagers, and cider
Designing the menu took a lot of time and effort, Janice says. Even the mixed drinks are homemade creations garnered from trial and error, such as the Kansas Twister or the Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, a blend of vodka, creme de cacao, peppermint schnapps, Bailey’s, Kahlua and cream. “You’d never know there’s no ice cream in there,” Joseph says. Everything is fresh and prepared from scratch. The hamburgers are made from locally grown black angus beef. “The only thing that comes out of a box are the straws,” Joseph says. “I like inventing recipes,” Janice says. The challenge wasn’t so much in creating scrumptious recipes but in doing them so they could be replicated. Exact measurements had to be written down and changed as conditions required.
Joseph, with assistance from his manager, Ed Souther, remodeled the basement into the Leprechaun Lounge, a sports bar complete with pool tables and large screen TVs. The previous owner had used the space as an arcade, basically an unsupervised romp room for adolescents, and Joseph thought the space could be better used to make income. It was laid out from scratch—one of the most fun things Joseph had done, he admitted—and its inclusion has been a major success, though in some surprising ways.
For one, karaoke remains much more popular than the occasional live bands. In some ways that frustrates the Trummers, but they’ve learned that the customer always comes first. It’s a mantra that Joseph drums into his employees. He says he consistently tells his kitchen staff to look out the rectangular windows opening out onto the serving floor and take a long hard look at who’s sitting at the tables. “That,” he says, “is who signs your paycheck.”
“We knew about being married to the business,” Joseph says. “But it was still more than I anticipated. A lot of things have happened I never thought would, good or bad.” And yet, he’s enjoying himself so much that he talks of opening two more pubs, in spite of the extra gray hairs he attributes to the business. Janice, however, thinks one is enough.
How that turns out is anyone’s guess. For now, though, there’s a little slice of Ireland, a little touch of heaven, in downtown St. Marys.
Tully’s irish Pub and Dublin Grill is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, call 785-321-6237 or visit their full menu on their web site.