Concession stand food gets a Laguna style makeover this football season beginning with the first home game Friday, Sept. 7, thanks to high school football boosters who have decided to swap frozen burger patties for the popularity of street food.
Wooing football fans and foodies alike, they have arranged for a variety of food trucks, as well as two food stands, to cook up some fun at each home game,
“It’s ‘Friday Night Lights’ ” for Laguna, said treasurer Mariann Tracy, whose son Brett is a sophomore on the team. “Come on down for great food and great entertainment.”
In their effort to appeal to the whole community, the food trucks and stands will begin serving at 5:30 p.m., and admission to the game will be free for anyone who shows up between 5:30 and 6:45 p.m. After that the usual admission fee applies. Kick off is at 7 p.m.
Traditionally, the concession stand at home games serves two purposes: to provide refreshments for fans and to raise money for the team. While the stand made money, the “work was really tough,” said booster president Greg Anderson, whose son Spencer is a senior on the team.
Each game required five concession volunteers in addition to the hassle of replenishing the inventory of perishable goods. “It’s just been so labor intensive, and only a handful of people show up on a regular basis,” agreed Tracy. And all that labor got fans mediocre hot dogs, chips and defrosted burger patties.
Even so, boosters feel the need for every penny to keep the team outfitted in top quality pads, helmets and other gear to ensure their safety, Anderson said. It’s a harder goal for boosters since donations have dropped as the result of a legal ruling, which prohibits them from asking member parents for donations of a specific dollar amounts.
As boosters mapped out their plan for the coming season in June, parent Kent Chesley, had an epiphany: outsource the labor to food trucks.
The idea morphed into the boosters’ vision for a more inclusive event where people of all ages come out to enjoy a fun meal at sunset. If they come just for the food, that’s fine; if they decide to stay for the game, even better. Unlike other towns where kids make up the majority of fans, 70 to 80 percent of the folks in Laguna’s stands are adults, pointed out Chesley, a 1986 LBHS alumnus whose son Ethan is a sophomore on the team.
“We have a phenomenal food offering,” said Chesley, who since July 4 has managed to secure six food trucks for each home game, with a couple of core trucks and two or three others flipping in and out, as well as a Texas BBQ stand and a gourmet ice cream sandwich purveyor. The BBQ stand will stake its claim on the ramp, with the other vendors setting up on the track at the far end of the field.
Piaggio, an Argentinian food truck (specialties from tacos gauchos and empanadas to chimichurri fries and churros con dulce de leche), and Pulp Fusion, a mobile Açai cafe serving up fresh blended açaí bowls, fresh pressed juices and espresso drinks, will be regulars at all of the games. As an added bonus, Pulp Fusion is owned and operated by LBHS alumnus Matt Crowl and his wife Jennifer.
Among the 10 other trucks scheduled to rotate throughout the season are: Chef Youkhan, (grilled artisanal pizzas, specialty sandwiches); SoHo Taco (gourmet tacos, assorted salsas, agua frescas); ); Burnt Truck (a variety of specialty sliders from cheeseburger to Vietnamese pork and Korean BBQ); and Tropical Shave Ice (with 20 flavors from vanilla to lilikoi).
The boosters will still man a concession stand, offering less labor intensive sodas and snacks. And they’ll still sell their spirit wear and programs for additional income. The school will receive 10 percent of all vendor profits.
Vendors agreed to keep entrees under $10, said Chesley. As he sees it, admission for his family, with his wife and three kids, would normally come to about $35, but if they come early they can get in for free and use that money towards a great meal.
“This is first and foremost a community event,” he said, though they hope to boost game attendance that averaged under 3,000 fans per game last year. “If I could push that to 4,000 to 4,500, I would consider this a huge success.”
The schedule of food trucks for the season’s home games (which may be subject to minor changes) is as follows:
Sept. 7: Piaggo, Pulp Fusion, Chef Youkhan, SoHo Taco, Fresh Fries, Tropical Shave Ice
Sept. 21: Piaggo, Pulp Fusion, Chef Youkhan, Taco Maria, Burnt Truck, Froyo
Sept. 28: Piaggo, Pulp Fusion, Dos Chinos, Dogzilla, Tamarindo, Tropical Shave Ice
Oct. 5: Piaggio, Pulp Fusion, Chef Youkhan, Burnt Truck, Taco Mario, Froyo
Oct. 19: Piaggo, Pulp Fusion, SoHo Taco, Dogzilla, Tamarindo, Tropical Shave Ice
Oct. 26: Piaggio, Pulp Fusion, Fresh Fries, Dogzilla, Dos Chinos, Froyo