Four restaurants, three days, 11 bands and 100,000 visitors. The big numbers that made up The Big Dance Concert Series could have been a challenge for the four Houston restaurants that earned the right to represent Houston. But Ninfa's on Navigation, The Tasting Room, Max's Wine Dive and House of Blues rose to the occasion.
"We had an amazing time, but it was challenging logistically," says Jonathan Horowitz, the vice president of Lasco Enterprises, which owns Max's Wine Dive and The Tasting Room. Horowitz says the dual concepts had about 40 staff on hand over the weekend and served over 10,000 food units.
Ninfa's chief operations officer Mark Weissberg wouldn't give a final number but said the restaurant did "very, very, very well" with flexibilty in service a key component of their success.
"We were serving the tacos [a la Ninfa] with tortilla chips and right away we got requests for nachos. I said yes, and it was probably one of the best decisions I ever made. The ingredients are about the same, but on the plate the nachos look bigger. By the end of the weekend we sold about 75 percent nachos," says Weissberg. "Most of the crowd was from out of town, so it was less about the Ninfa's name and more about us being able to give the customers the kind of food they wanted and food that represented our city."
A lower than expected turnout and a location slightly away from both the stage and the entrances meant slightly lower sales than anticipated. (Horowitz donated extra food to Casa Juan Diego church near Washington Avenue.) But both men said the restaurants were happy with their experiences and would consider participating in something similar in the future.
Says Horowitz, "We were thrilled with the team's effort to pull it all together and show the visitors to Houston a great time — and to give them awesome food!"