Art’s Jug to celebrate 80 years

The Sboro family, from left, Arthur J., Arthur V., Johanna R., Steven P., Meghan E., and Michael V., sit at a table in the dining room of Art's Jug. Photo by Amanda Morrison/NNY Business.

Family-run eatery credits success to quality service, food

It’s rare to find an establishment that has not only been run by family for four generations, but has operated successfully as an independent restaurant for just as long. This April, Watertown’s Art’s Jug on Huntington Street will turn 80 — and you’re invited to help celebrate.

The story of what was once known as the Stone Jug begins in the 1930s, when Attilio and Marie Anzalone Sboro opened the landmark restaurant serving meatball and sausage sandwiches. Fifteen years later, Mrs. Sboro changed the name of the popular eatery to Art’s Jug in honor of her son, Arthur, who had returned home from service in World War II. That brave solider tipped his hat to his parents and decided to run a second eatery that Mr. and Mrs. Sboro had just opened across town.

“When my father got back from the war in 1943, my grandparents started a place on State Street called the State Street Restaurant,” Art’s Jug owner Steven P. Sboro said. “He ran that for a few years. Then in 1946, he came to Art’s Jug to take over for my grandparents. I came along to work with my father in the early ’70s.”

Together with his brother Arthur V., Steven Sboro began to learn the ropes of what it was like to not only operate a restaurant, but to create unique recipes and sauces that would make the small eatery stand out from the dozens of other places that were popping up all over Watertown.

“There used to be quite a few independent family-owned restaurants in Jefferson County. Now there are less than a handful. I credit our survival to exquisite customer service and fantastic home-cooked food,” Mr. Sboro said.

That home-cooked food started in the 1930s on Coffeen Street with the crank of a pasta maker.

“Before the Stone Jug came to be, my grandfather, Attilio, was a bootlegger and my grandmother, Marie, made macaroni right behind their house on Coffeen Street,” Mr. Sboro said. “They just put the two of them together and decided the restaurant business is where they wanted to be.”

That little macaroni factory was a small building just a few feet from the Sboro home on Coffeen Street. Today it is Sboro’s Restaurant, which turned 20 last year. It is yet another milestone that young Arthur Sboro hopes to see grow for even more decades to come.

Portraits of Arthur A. and Johanna R. Sboro, and Attilio and Marie Anzalone Sboro, hang on the wall at Art's Jug in Watertown.

“It’s nostalgic, no doubt,” he said. “Both restaurants are. But there’s a little bit of pressure with it too. Sboro’s has been here for 20 years and Art’s Jug for 80 years. We’d like to see them both continue for 80 more. It’s going to be tough, but we are working it.”

Customers come and go from the original dining room at Art’s Jug and shake hands with Steven, complimenting him on the special of the evening and taking time to stop and chat with the new generation of Sboros who sit restfully at the bar after a long, 12-hour day.

“It’s the people who make the difference,” said Michael Sboro, Steven’s son. “We can spend hours in the kitchen preparing dishes and running around to make sure it’s just the way it should be, but at the end of the day it’s hearing our customers tell us they’ll be back again soon that really makes the difference.”
Art’s Jug has done a number of things to make the original family-owned eatery stand out. From fundraisers for the Children’s Miracle Network to being the only restaurant open during the ice storm of 1998, the mainstay has made its mark for sure. And as we look toward 2013, Steven assures the community that Art’s Jug and Sboro’s will celebrate their longevity in numerous ways. Just how remains to be seen.

Joleene DesRosiers Moody is a freelance writer, author and motivational speaker who lives in Pulaski. Contact her at joleene@joleenespeaks.com.