Service with a smile
Written by Christine Fennelly Photography by Joel Benjamin
Sullivan’s Castle Island is a legendary landmark in South Boston. It opened over 60 years ago and has served up more hot dogs than you can image to people from all over the world. You’d be hard pressed to find two other men in Southie who love their jobs as much as Sullivan’s longtime employees Harry Markarian and Chris Lane. This year Harry celebrates 45 years with Sullivan’s as Chris marks his 30th anniversary. Chris has been an employee of Sullivan’s since he was 14 years old. Harry refers to himself as “chief cook and bottle washer,” but it’s easy to glean from his near palpable love of Sullivan’s that he is the heart and soul of the daily operations. Chris’ title is general manager and clearly the biggest fan of the heart and the soul of Sully’s.
Best part of your job?
Harry: Without a doubt meeting the people. We (Sully’s patrons and employees) are the tightest knit community in Southie. People come on first dates, anniversaries, bring their kids and grandkids. It’s a real touchstone for the community.
Chris: I really love working with the kids. We hire mostly high school kids and some returning college kids in the summer and I really do love helping them to establish a good work ethic, understand the value of working hard and keeping them off the streets. It worked for me 30 years ago!
Harry: I know I speak for both of us when I say how proud and honored we are to work for the Sullivan family. Sully’s is a third generation restaurant. The Sullivan’s are incredibly devoted to this community and very generous and supportive of many organizations, including kids’ sports teams and South Boston Catholic Academy.
Favorite memory of working at Sully’s?
Harry: Easily the arrival and the parade of the Tall Ships in 1976. It was breathtaking to see the ships, but the amount of people that walked to Castle Island to catch a glimpse – it was like a tidal wave of people. It put us on the map for people not from Southie.
Chris: I guess when the dignitaries come by. Joe Biden was here a few years ago, and when Joe Moakley passed away his funeral procession did a loop down here. That was pretty special.
Harry: Also my other favorite memory is that Chris threw my 25th Sullivan’s anniversary party for me at Ocean Kai when it was on Columbia Road. That was very memorable and touching.
Harry: I really wish people could be neater and more considerate with their trash when they are done eating. Pick up and put your trash in the barrels!
Chris: I used to get super annoyed when people could not remember their order number. But thankfully we’ve resolved that and now patrons get a printed receipt with their order number clearly displayed.
Favorite menu item?
Harry: Easy! The lobster roll. All real fresh meat and no filler. Oh, and the raspberry lime rickey. That’s a fan favorite for sure.
Chris: The double cheeseburger. No better double patty burger anywhere.
Longest line at Sully’s?
Both: It was a couple of years ago – one of our early weekend openings in March. It was snowing – a real snowstorm and the line was all the way to the bathrooms. I think the opening of Sully’s is such a beacon of approaching Spring that people were not going to give up!
Favorite place to eat in Southie other than Sully’s?
Harry: Sal’s for sure, but I’m headed to Amrhein’s for brunch once we are done here!
Chris: Mirasola’s – another great family spot in South Boston.
If you’re new to Southie and have not yet tried Sullivan’s, November is your lucky month. November is customer appreciation month at Sully’s with 1/2 priced hot dogs all month! Sully’s will close for the season on November 29th.
If you think the two hardest working guys at Sully’s cruise off to the Caribbean for the winter months you are sorely mistaken. Harry sticks around and works on the building, cleaning and prepping and updating whatever needs work. Chris will take one long and well deserved cruise with his family, but then it is back to menu planning and other administrative busyness.
Harry pledges that he will never retire – he doesn’t consider his job “work” in the traditional sense. At 44 years old Chris is still very young and has a long and fulfilling career ahead of him. “I knew since I was 14 that I wanted to make Sully’s part of my life. Working here as a kid taught me so much – and now I get to give that back.”
Win big at Sullivan’s! Stop by Sullivan’s and mention Caught in Southie and you might be a winner. For the rest of the month of November, when you mention CIS, you have an opportunity to win prizes like gift certificates, Sully’s merchandise (including the new fleece jackets) and a VIP express pass to Sully’s Opening Day – no lines for you! Take advantage of Sullivan’s November specials too like 1/2 price hot dogs- 95¢, Celebrate 45 years of Harry with a 45¢ fish sandwich special from Mon-Fri 11/9- 11/13 and have a hot chocolate with Chris to celebrate his 30th season for only 30¢ from 11/14 until the end of the year!