Up­scale din­ing meets Stam­pede party tent fever

Calgary Herald - - STAMPEDE 2010 - Va­lerie Fortney vfortney@the­herald.canwest.com

It’s not ev­ery day that a grand open­ing of a new Stam­pede party venue fea­tures fine wines and fancy cheeses.

Then again, it took 42 years in busi­ness be­fore the Ter­rigno fam­ily of Os­te­ria de Medici (www.os­te­ria.ca) got in on the ac­tion.

The up­scale Ital­ian res­tau­rant, in the heart of the Kens­ing­ton shop­ping district, is famed for be­ing a celebrity mag­net, hav­ing served the likes of ac­tors Tom Sel­leck, Kevin Cost­ner, Heath Ledger and, most re­cently, for­mer U.S. pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush.

In its cur­rent lo­ca­tion for more than two decades, the res­tau­rant, with the help of charis­matic ma­tri­arch An­toinetta, co-owner with her mas­ter chef hus­band Rocco, has man­aged to not only sur­vive, but also thrive, in the cut­throat res­tau­rant in­dus­try. Yet for some un­fath­omable rea­son, the en­ter­pris­ing An­toinetta never waded into the Stam­pede party busi­ness.

“It’s crazy that all these years, the par­ties have been tak­ing place on the other side of the river, while it dies over here,” says Mau­r­izio Ter­rigno, the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion of the busi­ness and its gen­eral man­ager.

“There’s never been a Stam­pede tent in this neigh­bour­hood, and I thought enough was enough — it was high time we lured some of those Stam­pede vis­i­tors to beau­ti­ful Kens­ing­ton.”

Mau­r­izio has clearly in­her­ited his par­ents’ en­tre­pre­neur­ial streak and at­ten­tion to de­tail. Af­ter jump­ing through bureau­cratic hoops, he was fi­nally given the go-ahead this year to set up a gi­ant party and en­ter­tain­ment tent in the park­ing lot of his pop­u­lar res­tau­rant, smack dab at one of the city’s busiest in­ner-city cross­roads.

His plan is no less than Stam­pede dom­i­na­tion. “This is go­ing to be big for Kens­ing­ton,” he says of the venue that can ac­com­mo­date up to 600 pa­trons a day, with sold-out ca­banas for pri­vate host­ing.

This be­lated band­wagon jump­ing on the part of Os­te­ria de Medici, just one of a few first-time Stam­pede party en­trants, is a sign of bet­ter times: af­ter a dis­mal post-re­ces­sion 2009, the in­field suites at the Stam­pede rodeo are sold out, and many party tick­ets around town have been scooped months ahead by cor­po­rate Cal­gary.

Jocelyn Flana­gan says she’s no­ticed a def­i­nite up­swing in mood among her clients. Last year, there were a lot of con­ver­sa­tions about op­tics, cut­ting out such lux­u­ries as fire­works dis­plays. In 2010, she says, “there have been a lot less con­ver­sa­tions. Peo­ple are op­ti­mistic, but still cau­tious.”

Still, there is a lot of work in­volved for those want­ing to join the Stam­pede party cir­cuit, says Flana­gan. “It’s all in the de­tails, and pac­ing is so im­por­tant,” says the CEO of E=mc2, a lo­cal events plan­ning firm that is re­spon­si­ble for a good num­ber of the most-cov­eted par­ties this time of year, in­clud­ing en­tre­pre­neur Brett Wil­son’s gar­den party, Whip­stock and FirstEn­ergy’s FirstRowdy party.

“You need to find ways to keep things sur­pris­ing, to think out­side the box,” she says. “And you al­ways need to make sure the pac­ing works, so no one’s wait­ing in long lines to get in, or for any­thing else.”

It’s not just about hav­ing de­li­cious food, good en­ter­tain­ment or nice table­cloths, she notes. “You need to fo­cus on all five senses, set the right tone for your guests. You re­ally have to know your cus­tomer.”

Check­ing out Mau­r­izio Ter­rigno’s new venue on Fri­day, I see that he’s got it right, and clearly knows whom he’s cater­ing to.

The spaghetti western-themed tent has a min­i­mum age limit of 25; the young women serv­ing are, as one of my vet­eran Stam­pede party com­pan­ions noted, not only some of the best dressed, but also the pret­ti­est, of any Stam­pede venue down­town, with per­son­al­i­ties to match; and the seat­ing ar­eas, with big couches scat­tered in some of the for­rent sec­tions and the odd chan­de­lier hang­ing from the ceil­ing, are down­right lux­u­ri­ous.

“This is a classy res­tau­rant with a classy clien­tele, and we wanted to bring some of that out­doors,” says Mau­r­izio, who cred­its Heather Dougall, brought on ear­lier this year to help with the plan­ning, with giv­ing it some up­scale touches. “And no shoot­ers in the cleav­ages of our servers,” pipes in Dougall. “We didn’t want any­thing tacky.”

But he’s not stop­ping at just a party venue. On July 18, Os­te­ria de Medici and other Kens­ing­ton mer­chants will host their first Food for Fam­i­lies Fes­ti­val, a street party that will raise funds for YWCA shel­ters.

“Kens­ing­ton will no longer be left out of the Stam­pede par­ties,” says Mau­r­izio, who adds he in­tends for the fundrais­ing fes­ti­val to be­come a Stam­pede sta­ple. “We’re here to stay.”

Christina Ryan, Cal­gary Her­ald

“Kens­ing­ton will no longer be left out of the Stam­pede par­ties,” vows Mau­r­izio Ter­rigno, right, gen­eral man­ager of Os­te­ria de Medici res­tau­rant, which has opened a gi­ant Stam­pede party and en­ter­tain­ment tent this year.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.