Last Sunday afternoon, every guest who stepped from the rain into the Rondout’s enduring seafood restaurant was greeted with a warm, affectionate kiss by now former owner Frank “Butch” Guido. The party of several hundred buzzing, gesturing and hugging family and friends gathered to congratulate cousins Sal and Mark Guido on the 10th anniversary and their new full ownership of Mark’s father’s 30-year seafood and cocktail legacy of Mariner’s Harbor.
An emotional Frank Guido smiled through congratulatory speeches offered by Kingston Mayor James Sotille, personal family friend and Ulster County Executive Mike Hein and his successors Mark and Sal.
Sotille complemented the Guidos for their ability to offer something substantial for tourists when in town. Hein recalled how Frank was the first person to come forth after the death of his father-in-law to offer genuine support. “You’re a special human being, and you’ve surrounded yourself with a bunch of other special human beings. Your family would be so proud of you,” said Hein.
30 years ago, Frank Guido also opened Mariner’s Harbor in Highland, where both Sal and Mark were raised into the restaurant biz. Frank shared some interesting facts about Mariner’s Harbor: They have served over 3 million meals, 1 million coffees, 450,000 lobsters, 6.5 million cocktails (quipping, “one half million were drunk by me, though.”). The restaurants have employed 5,000 people in Kingston, and over 20,000 between the Kingston and Highland locations. He has spent $20 million on payroll, his servers have earned $12 million in tips, he’s helped send hundreds of students to college and given over $2 million to local charities and causes.
“When Mark, Sal and I compiled these numbers, we said, ‘Where’s our money?’”
Mark read a humorous congratulatory correspondence with some figures broken down by his accountant showing Mark’s earnings to be roughly 99 cents per hour.
Cousin Sal said that he and Mark have never argued over apart from girls, and that the best education he has ever received was having his desk across from Frank’s in Highland. Later, Sal said that he started working for Frank 20 years ago — the very day he got his driver’s license. “The one thing we have going for us is our location,” said Sal. “When the weather’s good, people just want to come down here to enjoy.” Sal said they are planning some landscape improvements for the front of the building, including more outdoor seating.
Mark, a graduate of University of Nevada-Las Vegas where he studied restaurant and business, said he studied at nine different schools spending over $500,000 of his father’s money only to learn that everything he ever needed to know he learned from his father in business. “I know nothing else,” admitted Mark. “It’s the only thing I know.” Mark swears his father is a genius when it comes to the industry, and jumped at the chance to hang onto it and run it with his cousin and best friend, Sal, whose strengths he explain complement his own. “Sal is super-organized in the office. I am personality. We complement each other so much, and we know we need each other too.”
Mark added that they are planning to revamp the front half of the restaurant to get lowered prices, bar fare menu, flat screen TV— morphed into a “pub”, whereas the restaurant will be have an updated menu to include healthier fare, vegetarian offerings and more contemporary seafood dishes. The seafood comes fresh four times weekly, said Mark. Two days from Connecticut and two days from Maine. “We are not making huge changes, or a lot,” insisted Mark. “Why fix something not broken?”
Ulster County Legislator Rich Gerentine topped off his plate of pasta like it was going out of style, sat down and commented on his personal relationship with Frank. “Frank and I developed a relationship over the years — not only over our mutual health issues but as two people,” said Gerentine. “Over the years Frank would help people who ask for help. Anyone who came through the door needing something, he would always give it. That’s the kind of man he is. He really means it.”