Food ban pits local against local at Livermore event

July 13, 2010 7:09:34 PM PDT
An outdoor concert designed to promote downtown Livermore has turned into a bit of a food fight.

The East Bay band Mud Daddy, tastes from downtown Livermore restaurants, Livermore Valley wines -- the free concerts on Tuesday evenings are meant to support downtown businesses and the local economy.

"A lot of the restaurants in this area, we're all promoting this by having specials on Tuesdays and we're all trying to be partners in this whole program," Victoria Higgins of Riata Diner and Tavern said.

Since the group Livermore Downtown is promoting and paying for the weekly event, they say people cannot bring in food from the outside; it has to be from downtown restaurants.

"It's kind of like when you're invited to someone's home; you do want to respect the host and have what they provided for you, so that's what we're doing here," Livermore Downtown, Inc. executive director Rachael Snedecor said.

Event organizers check receipts when people bring in bags. It is mainly for outside alcohol; their ABC license will not allow it. But they are taking heat for it.

"To limit it is just going to make people angry and they're not going to want to go and that's the whole fun of having the Tuesday evening concerts," Livermore resident Debbie Olsen said.

"I have an issue with them using a public park and basically what you could have done yesterday, come in with a bottle of wine, cheese, whatever, homemade cookies, you can't do today," opponent Shawn Vonsenden said.

Vonsenden started a Facebook group opposing the new rules that 150 people have joined.

"One or two of these a year, a privately held event, is fine; but I don't think they can run off 14, 15, 20 of these and not let public in," Vonsenden said.

It looks like the promoters are winning this food fight, but they say there are not any "food police" roaming the place, ready to pounce on anyone breaking the rules.

"We don't kick them out, we ask them to try some of what we have here in the area," Snedecor said. "I've never touched anyone's food."


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