COURTESY OF SCHLAFLY BEER
Schlafly Beer's Stout and Oyster Festival is the hottest ticket in town.
Lo Dugan knew there would be a robust interest in the limited number of tickets available for this weekend's Schlafly Beer (multiple locations including 2100 Locust Street, 314-241-2337)
Stout and Oyster Fest. The company's premier event of the year, the festival regularly draws 15,000 people from around the country; even though this year would be dramatically scaled back, she still figured the demand to have even somewhat of an in-person experience at the event's "Shuckerdome" was there. Still, she was not prepared for just how intense that demand would be.
"The response was overwhelming," Dugan says. "We did one social media announcement and within 24 hours, it was sold out. We've been getting emails and calls asking us if we have open tables, but we are just limited by what we can do because of restrictions. People are scrambling, but it just goes to show that St. Louis is ready to get out and experience safe events again."
Now, it's the Schlafly team that is scrambling — or at least working feverishly to ensure that those who missed out on tickets to the in-person event can still enjoy the festivities, which run this Friday and Saturday. With Shuckerdome tickets sold out, and the drive-thru biergarten also at max capacity, Dugan and her team are directing people who still want to experience the event to the Tap Room, where the festival's signature Oyster Stout, fresh oysters and oyster-centric specials will be on hand.
Busy and working tirelessly to accommodate as many people as possible, Dugan can't help but take a moment to stop and reflect on where the Schlafly team was a year ago. With the threat of COVID-19 becoming abundantly clear, Schlafly was scrambling for a much different reason, first debating how to adapt the Stout and Oyster Festival to the shifting pandemic landscape, then ultimately canceling the event as the city — and world — went on lockdown.
This year, Schlafly was determined to bring back the event, no matter how different. Though Dugan believes the excitement about Stout and Oyster Festival in years past has to do with the boisterous, communal environment, she and the team worked hard to figure out a way to translate at least some of the vibe of the event to the to-go and Tap Room participants.
"We've had success with these to-go experiences over the course of the year," Dugan says. "It was a no-brainer that we could get in fresh oysters and execute a take-home experience for our customers to enjoy. From the beginning, we knew we could do a drive-thru brew pub and brew the Oyster Stout, and after talking to the City, we knew we could have small on-site activity as well. We just really want to bring a sense of normalcy to people."
For those who did not get tickets to the Shuckerdome or drive-thru biergarten pre-orders, Dugan believes the Tap Room experience is the way to go. Guests will still get to experience fresh oysters and good music (there will be no live band this year) while soaking in the festive atmosphere — albeit in as safe a manner as possible that adheres to COVID-19 guidelines. Still, even though the Schlafly team is ready for the onslaught, she asks for patience and thinks it is best for would-be attendees to have realistic expectations.
"We're ready for it, but it's going to be a two-hour wait for a table," Dugan says. "It's just the nature of the beast. We've turned our private dining room into extra seating, but people it's still first-come, first-served. And if that doesn't work for someone, we still have two other locations that are open this weekend."
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