TRAVERSE CITY — The food selection at Traverse City Film Festival venues has been pared down this year — which means no more sandwiches to keep film-goers going.
The festival is trying a more streamlined approach, said Louis Dickinson, concessions manager.
“The sandwiches are hard to wrangle and hard to keep fresh throughout the day,” Dickinson said. “We’ve had wonderful sandwich suppliers in the past, but many are local businesses that have their own thing going on. It’s a lot to ask that they prepare 500 sandwiches every morning.”
Instead, organizers decided to stick to more grab-and-go foods like the usual popcorn, soda and candy, he said. New this year will be coffee from Cold Brew and baked goods — chocolate chip and cherry oatmeal cookies and cherry turnovers — from Grand Traverse Pie Company.
But without sandwiches, film-goers will be more reliant on local restaurants for heartier sustenance before, between and after movies.
And this year many restaurants are more prepared with quick and easy options.
Pangea’s Pizza on Front Street — near the festival’s City Opera House venue — opened its full rooftop deck and bar this summer, which more than doubles its space from 93 seats to 230, said general manager Kyle Belton. And while its menu isn’t geared toward “fast” food, it does offer some quicker dishes, he said.
“We have a stone oven so it takes pizzas a while to cook,” Belton said. “When we get really busy it takes even longer. But we have pizza by the slice — cheese and pepperoni — and we do have many appetizers like chips and salsa, hummus and pita bread, artichoke truffle dip served with tomato tortilla chips and chicken lettuce wrap. All our cold items we can get out to people really fast. So if people want to come up and have a drink and an appetizer those are the things that are geared toward film festival goers.”
The Dish Café near the corner of Front and Union — also near the City Opera House — recently added a new open-front refrigerator with a variety of take-out — or eat in — salads, sandwiches and drinks.
Salads and dips include broccoli bacon salad, bacon and redskin potato salad, cherry chicken salad, pub cheese spread, Mexican cottage cheese dip, hummus, honey-curry hummus, fresh house salad, blue cheese-fig-walnut spread, and blue cheese-herb potato salad. Sandwiches include turkey ciabatta and ham and Swiss.
Diners and picnickers can wash their meal down with wine, beer, bottled water, Red Bull or iced tea.
A few blocks away — and across from festival venue State Theatre — sister restaurants Slate and Sorellina recently added small plate happy hour menus during restaurant hours, said bar manager Andy Camden.
“Those small plates are going to be a good go-to for people in a hurry,” Camden said. “They’re going to be faster than anything you can get on the menu.”
The small plates — which can be enjoyed with cocktails, wine, craft beer or strawberry basil lemonade — include Caprese, bruschetta, calamari, Brie en croute, and Margherita, fungi and carne pizza.
“If you want to buzz in and have a drink and a small plate we are totally happy to do that,” Camden said. “That was what we were gearing up for last year but it didn’t happen.”
Other good choices are Sorellina’s Ceasar, antipasti and Sorellina salads — either side- or entrée-size — and dinner pastas, said Slate assistant manager Ben Dalzell.
“All the pasta dishes are very quick. You can tell your server you need to get to a movie and we can probably get people in and out in half an hour,” he said.
Sorellina opens for lunch at 11 a.m. and also features an express lunch menu with several soup, salad, sandwich and pizza options. Among them: lobster bisque, heirloom tomato gazpacho and GTBB Grilled Cheese with mozzarella and Muenster on rustic sourdough.
As in past years, the Film Fest will provide food vendors for free Open Space films Tuesday through Sunday, said Dickinson. This year’s lineup: Aw, Shucks; B.C. Pizza; Uptown Dogs; and Why Knot Pretzels.
This will be the festival’s second year working with Open Water — a Chicago company that will provide water bottles made out of recycled aluminum, he said.
“We’re excited with the choices we have, especially the new coffee and baked goods we have. It should be a good festival,” Dickinson said.
“Those small plates are going to be a good go-to for people in a hurry. They’re going to be faster than anything you can get on the menu.” Andy Camden, Slate and Sorellina bar manager