Holding Court at Britt
Britt Music & Arts Festival’s lineup this year includes new food artists as well as musical artists.
Four local vendors will be on site in a remodeled food court when the season begins Saturday with Taj Mahal and Keb' Mo'.
“For the first time, venue patrons will be able to have gourmet food up on the hill,” said Britt President and CEO Donna Briggs. “The restaurant owners were part of the process that designed the kitchen.”
Back Porch Bar and Grill and Frau Kemmling Schoolhaus Brewhaus, both from Jacksonville, will offer fare. Medford food truck vendors Peruvian Point and Fired Up Gourmet will be there, too.
Britt experimented with five food trucks at five events two years ago, said Briggs. Last year restaurants and food trucks were on site for 10 concerts. Audience members welcomed the food options, said Briggs.
“Based on our experiment with the food trucks and restaurants, we were able to select the ones we thought were most likely to succeed,” said Briggs. West Coast Events had been contracted to provide food services previously. It will still manage beer and wine sales.
Britt wanted to maintain the speed of the former food service but add quality, said Back Porch owner Blu Collins. His business was present last year at selected concerts.
“We are having to find the balance of providing quality hot, fresh food and being able to put the food out quickly,” said Collins. Britt asked that vendors limit items available to make sure everyone is happy and fed in a 2½-hour window, Collins said.
Britt spent $160,000 from reserves to remodel the old concession building. Restaurant owners invested in equipment to outfit their spaces.
“This is truly a partnership. We did all the infrastructure. Britt is happy to support entrepreneurs,” said Briggs. “The board once again stepped up and said let’s invest in this with the intention of improving the quality.”
Peruvian Point owner Christian Ainzuain hopes to be at the venue for a long time. His truck took part in the 2015 and 2016 experiments.
“People won’t have to pack their picnics now," he said. "They’ll know there’s gourmet food up there. I think they will be super happy about it. I love the exposure for my business. We are pretty excited about it.”
Ainzuain spent about $7,000 on kitchen equipment to get set up at Britt. Peruvian Point’s food truck will continue on its regular schedule in Medford to serve current customers, he said. He will add a couple of employees, and the stand at Britt will be staffed with five people for concerts.
Back Porch will add two more employees for the summer and have four or five at the food court depending upon the event, said Collins. Vendors spent between $7,000 and $13,000 to equip spaces, he estimated.
The same seating will be available as before, but the size of the upper concession area was doubled to ease congestion, said Briggs. There also will be seating in the old Table Rock Cafe area. Patrons are still welcome to bring their own picnics.
— Tony Boom is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at email@example.com.