Lobsters are coming back to Redondo Beach
“Lobster Rock” happens this weekend at Seaside Lagoon in Redondo Beach
by Bondo Wyszpolski
We came “this close” to not getting a lobster festival this year at Seaside Lagoon in Redondo Beach. The three-day event, which for the past two decades had been one of the city’s signature offerings, was put on “hiatus” a few months back because the Chamber of Commerce was in “transition.”
That’s when Mike Bouchard and Dave Tardif, who were behind this past spring’s “Brew Lagoon” event, also held at Seaside Lagoon, stepped in with an offer to revitalize it.
Bouchard says he was called, although he won’t say by who, after the Chamber of Commerce bowed out and he was asked, Are you interested in that weekend?
Absolutely, he replied, which doesn’t mean there weren’t hoops to jump through.
“Finally we got approved to do this, with six weeks. Six weeks,” he emphasizes,”to do an event that takes six months to a year to plan.”
Nonetheless, Bouchard (who ran Gasser’s Lounge in Redondo for several years) and Tardif (a sales rep for Stone Brewing Co., the largest brewery in Southern California) didn’t hesitate.
“All we did was pick up the baton and run,” Bouchard says, because it’s a local event that the community loves and has looked forward to.
“We were very careful to separate ourselves from the Lobster Festival,” he adds, “because we don’t want to step on any toes with the Chamber of Commerce.”
But because they also wanted a rebranding of the event it’s now being called “Lobster Rock” and subtitled as a “Lobster & Music Festival.”
“We want people to come down to Redondo and say, ‘Wow, what a great town.’ We just don’t want them to move here,” Bouchard continues and laughs, “‘cause we’re maxed out.” Joking aside, though, he points out that the community has “a ton of incredible artists… I think the event needs to be a representation of South Bay culture.”
“We want to make sure that everybody who comes in has a great experience,” Tardif interjects. “That’s what it’s all about.”
Bouchard concurs. “We want it to be fun and exciting.”
So, how to they intend to do this? Putting quality first, that’s how
“We want, simultaneously, to focus on entertainment, like national touring acts, and quality of food,” Bouchard says. That meant going immediately to Quality Seafood to have them be their lobster provider. Traditional, whole Maine lobster plates are going for $22 (for a one-and-a-half pound lobster) or $40 for two plates.
Bouchard and Tardif then went to several of their favorite restaurants, and Tardif ended up curating a menu with each of them. They include Hudson House, Silvio’s, The Standing Room, Mama D’s, Brewport, and Sausal.
Most of the items being sold by these restaurants will be in the $8 to $10 range.
“We’re not trying to make money on the food because we opted for quality over profit,” Bouchard says.
As for entertainment, a number of talented, respected artists have been lined up.
For example, on Friday, they have Tomorrows Bad Seeds, Kaleo Wassman from Pepper, and Dan Kelly of Fortunate Youth. Saturday: Freestone, Hoist the Colors, and Save Ferris. And on Sunday, billed as family day: Yächtley Crëw, Twisted Gypsy (a tribute to Fleetwood Mac), and Petty… or Not (a tribute to Tom Petty). Additionally, there are DJ sets by Silk Ruffins on Friday, DJ sets by Jimbo on Saturday, and DJ sets by DJ eaf DJ on Sunday. Bouchard and Tardif were able to partner with noted concert event producer Brad Smith.
As Tardif sees it, what is going to make Lobster Rock stand out from previous lobster festivals, apart from the quality of both the food and the entertainment, is their professional approach. “Mike and I as an organization analyze everything business-wise, and if it doesn’t make business sense we can’t do it.”
And Tardif is quite laudatory about this partnership: “I have a thousand accounts I deal with. I’ve gravitated towards one, and that’s Mike Bouchard. It’s because of his creativity, it’s because of his work ethic.” And, again, “It’s not about making money, it’s about giving people a really good, fun experience. If we can do that, the money will follow.”
Among the sponsors ensuring that Lobster Rock meets the high standards it’s setting for itself are Merit Real Estate and Crowne Plaza Hotels and Resorts.
Lobster Rock: Lobster and Music Festival goes from 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday and from 12 to 9 p.m. on Saturday. These are 21 and over events. On Sunday it goes from 12 to 8 p.m. and this is geared towards the entire family, all ages. Tickets, $20 in advance and $30 at the door. Seaside Lagoon is located at 200 Portofino Way, Redondo Beach. More information and tickets at lobsterrock.com. ER