Friday, October 12, 2007

Bluff Park businesses ride to the rescue, fill in BBQ gap at art show

“Where’s the barbecue?” It was the question on many people's minds at the Bluff Park Art Show last Saturday. The answer is a story of a challenge and a community that made sure the show went on.

About a week before the Oct. 6 show, the Bluff Park Art Association got a call. The civic group that had provided the barbecue for many years was not going to be able to do it. “We were disappointed, because it has been part of our tradition,” said Jackie Dye, co-chair of the Association. “Even more, it was the majority of our food sales.”

Inspiration struck in the form of a “Shop Bluff Park First” decal in the window of a store. “We turned to the local businesses,” Ms. Dye said. On Thursday before the show, at almost literally the last minute, they went to Baker’s Famous Pizza in Shades Mountain Plaza and asked for help. “They volunteered to have a booth, and then recommended the new catering store next door. Everyone pulled together,” she said.

Laura, one of the staff at Baker’s, said they had already scheduled extra people because of the Alabama game. “We were up and down the street to the park all day, but we were happy to do it,” she said. "There were a lot of locals who didn't know about our pizza, so it was a great opportunity for us as well."

The next stop was Ashley Mac’s, a new catering and “dinners to go” business owned by Ashley and Andy McMakin. “We put together box lunches with chicken salad or pimiento cheese, Greek pasta salad, brownies and chips,” Ashley McMakin said. “We produced for 14 hours on Friday and all day Saturday, and we sold everything we had.” She added that the work paid off not only in helping the community, but also in business. “We’ve already booked three engagements, and we have had a lot of people come into the store.”

When Ms. Dye took a group of volunteers to lunch Thursday at the Bluff Park Diner on Shades Crest Rd., she caught owner Bob Hoeferlin behind the register. “I told him we really had a crisis,” she said. There was no way to do barbecue by that point, but Hoeferlin offered to provide hamburgers and hot dogs from the Tip Top Grill. “It’s one of our busiest days at the Grill anyway,” he said, and they started cooking at midnight. “We had to keep it simple, just the basic sandwich and packets of accompaniments and we couldn’t cook to order. But we were happy to help the show and it worked out well for everyone.”

Ms. Dye said Bluff Park Baptist Church also assisted, with chicken wrap sandwiches and popcorn for sale. There were also numerous volunteers who staffed the food vendors.

“The Bluff Park Art Association is a strong organization,” Ms. Dye said. “We overcame the challenge and it worked out great.” She said they would be starting in the spring next year to organize food for next year’s art show.

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