Doug’s Fish Fry: BEST in the Finger Lakes

June 27, 2011 at 7:31 am 1 comment

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In 1982 a tiny storefront opened in Skaneateles called Doug’s Fish Fry. It sold a long slab of breaded cod tucked precariously inside a too small hamburger bun.  I watched cases of fish, packed in ice and carried off a truck, into the long skinny restaurant, which was just big enough to tight pack workers in and fry fish, while running a long line of people through, in the front door, and out the back. Doug claimed that he shipped his fish in fresh every day, and based upon the taste it made a BIG difference. Within a very short time there were lines of people coming out of Doug’s on Friday and Saturday nights winding way down the street, as people patiently waited for their fish sandwich, french fries and coleslaw (which by my opinion is the BEST you will get anywhere). Back then there wasn’t even a place to sit down. Doug set up picnic tables outside in the back, and eventually bought a separate building to seat the growing numbers of  Doug’s Fish Fry Fans.

Doug's Bumper Sticker on cook stove with fans, Whitney and Emily

Fans take a free bumper sticker as they leave, travel back to their homes, ALL OVER THE WORLD, and send Doug a photo from a far off location featuring the bumper sticker. Today as you wait in line at Doug’s, you can look at the gallery of photos spanning the last 20-something years.

Doug, like his restaurant, is a now a famous fixture in Skaneateles. I caught him as he passed though on a Sunday afternoon and chatted with him. His comment was “I’ve only been here since 1982, so I’m  a newcomer.”  The restaurant has gone through several expansions over the years and now has a large dining room attached to the kitchen area, but still has the picnic tables out in back.

There are lots of other great things to try besides the fish sandwich, like scallops, clam, lobster,  and home-made seafood bisque. Doug retired a few years ago. He sold the business to one of his first employees, who started with him in 1982 as a teenager. Its run just the same way as always, but now they have another store in Cortland and they are also at the New York State Fair.

I was 21 years old when Doug’s opened. I have raised my kids to judge the world of fried fish and coleslaw against his famous fish dinner. Alex my son is now 20 and we look forward to his celebrating his 21st birthday at Doug’s so we can get him a beer to go with his fish dinner, and complete the perfect meal.

Doug's Fish Fry on Urbanspoon


Entry filed under: Activities, beer, Finger Lakes, New York, restaurants, Skaneateles. Tags: , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. doug  |  June 21, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    I don’t know what it is about this hole in the wall. It arrived while I was in out of town, at college. It must be the sum of its parts: great fish, slaw, fries, ice cream, and fun. It never fails to please.


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