My wife and I first visited Captain Yogi's Fish Shanty, on the road running along the eastern shore of Canandaigua Lake in western NY state, during the Thanksgiving holiday, 1999. To say we were immediately smitten is an understatement.
Captain Yogi's, then owned by the good Captain and his wife, Admiral Lois, served marvelous fish fries to neighbors enjoying summers on the lake, a reprieve from western New York's long, cold winters. At first sighting, the shanty could be a beach-side Jimmy Buffet place, but you will find no traces of Southern accents here, just tasty New England-style seafood. Their restaurant is a 33 year tradition for lake dwellers and they claim to have served 2 1/2 million clam strip dinners since June 5, 1975. OK, the Captain probably never liked math in school.
The Captain, a jolly big man wins over his customers with his delicious food and kindly manner. His becurled wife, Lois, is a "piece of work" who is full of personality, a fine manager of the business, and has some sort of special aura that I can not define for you. For many years, she and her husband have made their dedicated customers feel at home and relaxed by greeting each one like a long-lost relative. Fun is the name of the game in Captain Yogi's and tasty food is the main product.
The torch has been passed to new owners, Nancy and Jeff, so the Captain and Lois can take life easy from the long hours that the restaurant business requires. When we there last week, Lois had dropped in and we were very, very happy to see her. The Captain was not there as he was "probably playing cards." I would bet he is the kindliest card shark on Canandaigua Lake.
I have surveyed the many dishes coming out of the kitchen ranging from clam baskets, to New England clam chowder, broiled scallops, baked flounder, crab cakes, scallop asiago, hamburgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, and......yes......peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
To be honest, I have tasted none of the above. I always order the fried haddock and fries with the goodie bar (a very diverse salad bar). Further, I informed the new owners that I do not expect to advance past that dish. It is perfectly prepared and I fully intend to order the same thing everytime I visit Captain Yogi's. If they remove the fish fry from the menu, they should prepare themselves for a renactment of the Civil War within their restaurant.
The main chef is still in place. He cooks with clean, fresh, hot oil and the fried items come out golden, crisp, without a hint of grease. This guy knows exactly what he is doing and the proof is in the tasty dishes he turns out. Also, Captain Yogi's has the friendliest waitresses who greet everyone as if they were bringing you into their own homes.
The chef and the waitresses have worked for the Captain and Lois for years, a good sign that suggests stability and quality in this business. Everything is prepared to order and there is no fast food here. Be prepared to stay awhile and enjoy delicious food and a fun atmosphere.
Yankees have a thing about sitting outdoors. Most smart Floridians do not sit outside in the summer. The weather in western NY is usually suitable for outdoor dining, but I prefer to sit inside when I can. Now that we have a dog, however, those days are over. They were very nice to bring a water bowl and allowed us to dine in their outside court yard. My pup approved.
Lastly to the good Captain and his Admiral, Lois: your customers love you and your food. You can leave the business, but you will never leave our hearts. To the new owners, Nancy and Jeff, we wish you good luck and smooth sailing.
One last note: the county is dry so adult beverage drinking is not allowed.