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KatieLoeb

PLAN: "Heartland" Gathering (In Philly) 2012

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I always used to sit in the 700 level seats because it was all I could afford. Though many might refer to those as the "nosebleed" seats, there's no more authentic way to see a Phils game amongst the most truly devoted and righteous of fans.

Most of the better food options from the ballpark are available at the brick and mortar locations of their originators. Crab fries from Chickie & Pete's, Tony Luke's cheesesteaks, Schmitters at McNally's, etc. Certainly a "Citizens Bank Ballpark Concession Food Tour" could be arranged, although the logistics of pulling that off, both geographically and time wise are a bit daunting...

Perhaps an "Out of the Park" tour - hitting the originators and getting together in a park to share it all!

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The Phillies sell 500 standing room only tickets starting 3 hours before each game. This might be less of a hassle then trying to buy tickets online since the Phils have sold out every game since early last season and don't look like they're slowing down any time soon. It's also the cheapest option, and would allow you to watch the game from the outfield railing along Ashburn Alley and mingle with the people. I'd compare it to sitting in the bleachers at Wrigley, except with no actual seats but way better food. There's tons of tables available (especially near Bull's BBQ) which would promote the divide-and-conquer strategy of sending a few people to each line then coming back to split the feast. I'm as authentic a Phillies fan as they come and go to about 25 games a year, so if you have any questions let me know.

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IMO, Phillies game = terribly bad fit

Wait, did I just say that out loud? :biggrin:

In all seriousness, as much as I love seeing MLB ballparks, I'd almost certainly do my own thing if a Phillies game were on the agenda. That just seems like a big chunk of time to throw away when I could otherwise be eating and drinking local fare.

=R=

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Yeah, as Katie said - there's nothing food-wise at the stadiums that can't be had elsewhere (and probably a little better.)

It's totally cool that one can get good food at the ball park, and avoid the institutional fare one is usually stuck with in places like that. I can certainly see the appeal of having some unique Philadelphia food while watching a game, but the ballpark is not really a dining destination in and of itself. There's nothing you can ONLY get there, other than the experience.

I guess it does have the advantage of offering several local specialties in close proximity to one another, but I don't think that all of the surrounding logistical hassles are going to make it more efficient than just going to the original locations. Getting to the park, getting in, meeting up, standing in lines for food (and there ARE lines for the good stuff) getting the food back to a communal area while it's hot, will, as Ronnie suspects, mean throwing away a big chunk of time.

But, maybe that's OK, and the combined experience of watching a baseball game and eating a Tony Luke's sandwich would be worth the time (and not-insignificant money) to the folks who are visiting. So it's up to you folks, really. As a local, I'd suggest spending the time, and money, on more food...

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Right: Phillies games are fun, but I agree that they aren't a great fit for this event. Obviously those who really want to go will find a way to go on their own. Too much to eat in Philly to kill a whole afternoon at the ballpark.

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I *love* visiting ballparks in other cities, and even I think that, in the context of The Gathering, this wouldn't be a good fit.

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ETA: Wow, if there's space at RTM for the Saturday Feast that would be incredible. Anyone have specs on it? Is it big enough to work? What's the layout between the kitchen and dining areas (open is far better than closed off)? And how early do we have to reserve it?

I can ask to reserve it as soon as the date is set.

The design is finished, but construction won't begin until later this fall, with completion in first quarter 2012 (hopefully before March, when the Philadelphia Flower Show opens at the convention center; that week is the single busiest of the year for the RTM).

The multi-purpose room and demonstration kitchen will be adjacent and are specifically designed so they can be used together, the multi-purpose room providing additional seating space for kitchen demonstrations as well as being a group dining and meeting venue. (The kitchen itself will also be home of a cooking instruction business now located in a small space within the market.)

But pictures (two) are better than words:

reno_lacucina.jpg

This is a rendering of the demonstration kitchen and its limited seting area. Below is a view (from center court) of the multi-purpose room (named for retired Phila. Inquirer food columnist Rick Nichols) with the kitchen located to the far left of the room.

reno_rickroom.jpg

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Very nice, Bob. Do you have a sense of how many people can comfortable be seated in the dining area, and how much cooking area there is? In my experience we typically have around a dozen people cooking at any one time during the Saturday feast, and probably need seating for 30-40. What about price?

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I'm waiting to hear back from the RTM on costs, kitchen use, etc. I'll post when I've got something more definitive.

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Thanks Bob!! Knew your connections at the RTM would come in handy! I just hope that like all new construction, it doesn't fall so far behind schedule that we get stuck without a venue. I'm not wishing ill here, I've just lived through enough restaurant renovations and new construction to be duly cynical. As for the new Rick Nichols space, I think we need to invite Mr. Nichols to join us for the feast to help "christen" it with the large group of assembled foodies from far and wide. I'm sure he'd love that.

I like the idea of the "Out of the Park" picnic on the local ballpark delicacies. Perhaps we could place take out orders at several of the original locations, have several of the locals pick up (or have them delivered if such service is feasible) and all assemble somewhere central for a feast. If the weather is cooperative, Penn's Landing might be nice since it's a bit cooler down by the water in August...

Carry on...

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Spoke to RTM GM Paul Steinke today and it will be no problem to handle 50-60 people for table seating in new kitchen/multiple-purpose room. Expanded kitchen should also be able to accommodate a dozen cooks. They won't be setting use fees until early next year, but he'd love to have eGulleters use the facility.

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OK - so that solves that logistical problem perfectly. We have a kitchen with the best stocked pantry in the city right outside. Awesome!!! If I can finagle some liquor donations for cocktails and can convince a bartending friend or two to help me out we'll have achieved the trifecta.

This is coming together nicely... :smile:

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Though it might make sense to have a backup plan in case the price is exorbitant, or the space doesn't get finished...

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I concur with Chris. Until we know the price, seek out a backup plan. That's more likely to be an issue than construction delays, since work is due to start immediately after labor day and be ready by end of February ... so it can almost twice as long as scheduled and still be ready in early August. That said, there's no such thing as a certainty.

I don't think cost will be.a deal-breaker if we're just using it as a seating area while everyone goes get their lunches from various vendors. I do think cost might be an issue for an after-hours event that would entail kitchen use, extra security, etc. Let's wait and see how RTM prices that.

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OK - that all makes sense. Hadn't considered the security issue, etc. Although I'd hope they might be kind and give us the "friends and family" rate. This gathering has epic potential for great PR for all concerned.

I'll see if the Restaurant School might serve as an alternate venue. Not sure if they rent out their kitchen and dining spaces, but no guts, no glory. Worst case scenario is back to the drawing board...

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I hope y'all haven't been intimidated by the event spaces of the recent gatherings. Commercial spaces like the one in Cleveland and in KC were great--roomy, excellent cooking facilities, etc. But Chicago was in a church in a suburb outside Chicago, and that was great, too. If RTM or the Restaurant School are available and affordable, great. But (and I'll probably be outvoted on this, too), I think cozy, homely event spaces are just as good as the fancy schmancy ones, and if it keeps the expenses low, even better.

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Since I'm not an active member of any church/synagogue/private club that has a space like that, I'm limited to those things I do know. I'm just trying to think of venues that have enough stove top space as well as some sort of area for sitting down forty or so hungry people. If anyone has any other bright ideas for a local space that would fit the bill, fantastic. Otherwise I'm going to stick with commercial/educational cooking venues that will definitely fill those minimum requirements.

Are any of the PhilleGulleteers a member of a lodge/club or house of worship with a functional kitchen that could house an event of this nature? Please feel free to pipe up anytime...

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As a former PhillieGuleter (that's some word), I am all for RTM. And can't think of anything else except Art Institute--not nearly as fun.

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Jane:

Thanks for making me think about this differently. Didn't realize the Art Institute had that sort of space. But of course it makes sense that it does. I know that many venues in the city are used for weddings/parties/corporate events. I will check with catering friends and ask which venues around town have adequate on-site facilities that DON'T require the literal Moveable Feast and don't have outrageous rental fees. That could be a good start at least...

My vote is for RTM as well, though. Here's hoping the fees aren't insurmountable, because the combination of having the "pantry" right there and having our meal in that grand space is too good to pass up.


Edited by KatieLoeb (log)

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In a stroke of brilliant timing, Chef Michael Solomonov of Zahav happened to come to Oyster House for lunch today while I was working. I explained briefly about the Heartland gathering and he was very excited to create a meal for our group. He said that the menu might be different by then but to call him up when we have our date and number of folks and he'd be happy to work with me to create an event just for us. :cool:

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You are obviously a great salesperson, Katie. What a lovely offer! The "Party Time" menu looks nice. Philly is such an embarrassment of food riches, is there time for it all?

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We'll have to schedule wisely, but I think we'll be able to fit in a lot of fun meals, tours, etc. in four days. Should be loads of fun. Getting some of the local chefs and food personalities excited about hosting the eG crew shouldn't be difficult. I know for a fact that many of them are lurkers here...

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I think a meal at Zahav is a great idea. Michael Solomonov's food is pretty unique, and delicious...

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Nothing specific yet, but sometime in August 2012. A four day weekend, Thurs-Sunday.

What say all ye? Are we doin' this or what? I'm stoked to get started organizing...

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