The Big Gig means big business for Saz's
Saz's has been part of Summerfest for more than 30 years and, as one of the festival's longstanding vendors, it has made its name synonymous with the world's largest music festival.
Two permanent concession stands in the Miller Lite Oasis -- Saz's Main Stand and Saz's Express -- serve just about every Summerfest visitor, either with Saz's trademark barbecue, one of its three Summerfest best sellers: mozzarella marinara, sour cream and chive fries or the famous festival combo plate, which carries a sampling of the previous two items plus fried cheese curds.
Additionally, Saz's does the bulk of Summerfest's corporate catering, making the festival's 11-day run one of the restaurant company's busiest times of year.
Saz's employs more than 300 people during the 11 days of Summerfest, and these employees sell enough mozzarella sticks that catering manager Joe Brueggemann jokes that if you were to line up each stick, end to end, you could potentially make it to the moon and back.
In 2010, Saz's already significant presence expanded to include a new stand, Saz's Express 2, on the south end of the grounds near the M&I Classic Rock Stage.
The new location offers up the basics along with three new items: a beer-battered haddock fish fry with french fries and cole slaw; a jumbo bratwurst, which Brueggemann has coined "the biggest sausage on the grounds," tucked into a Miller Bakery pretzel roll; and a Memphis BBQ pork sandwich featuring pulled pork on a Miller Bakery pretzel roll topped with slaw and served with the sauce on the side.
In a much more dramatic expansion, Sazama's Lakeside Grille is open nightly for finer dining across from the M&I Classic Rock Stage, near the hole-in-one contest area.
With half indoor (tent-enclosed) seating and half outdoor seating, the sit-down, white tablecloth restaurant that abuts the lagoon will be able to accommodate up to 230 guests.
"The response has been fantastic," said Saz's owner, Steve Sazama. "On Sunday night, a lot of parents dropped their kids at the Justin Bieber concert and came over for a glass of wine or a beer. Monday night, with Eric Clapton, we were just about sold out of reservations.
"What Joe (Brueggemann) has done with the staffing and with the kitchen -- there isn't too much of a kitchen -- really has been amazing."
In addition to a full menu that includes a shrimp martini appetizer ($10), Wisconsin Hereford New York strip steak with wild mushrooms and leeks ($29), blackened salmon ($20), chicken Marsala ($19) and Grand Marnier crème brûlée ($6.50), Sazama's Lakeside Grill will serve Blue Moon and Miller Genuine Draft and a selection of different tiered wines by the bottle or by the glass, in actual glassware.
"I'm thinking about putting a line on the glass, so people will feel like they are at Summerfest," Sazama said.
The Grille accepts reservations but is already doing brisk business, so if your intention is to grab a nice lakeside dinner before catching a show at the Marcus Amphitheater, you may want to make reservations now. Walk-up diners are accepted if capacity allows.
"Summerfest is all about fun and having something different to experience," Brueggemann says. "Sazama's Lakeside Grille offers a great change of pace, especially if you're going to the Marcus Amphitheater for a show.
"It's an outstanding location with a beautiful, breathtaking view of the lakefront and the Milwaukee skyline, and you can have a nice, relaxing date night or pre-show meal without having to rush around."
Sazama's Lakeside Grille opens daily at noon, and depending on nightly demand, ceases table service between 10 and 11 p.m.
To make reservations, call the reservation hotline at (414) 453-4023 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whoever said Saz's isn't very good..obviously a food snob.
I don't understand the obsession with Saz's. They're local, and I want to support them, but the food just isn't that good. I know food is subjective, but seriously, it's average to bad.
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