After a successful, albeit hectic, inaugural Oktoberfest last year, Steve Podjasik and his team at Glenview House in Glenview, Ill., are gearing up for a bigger and better second round.
The North Shore neighborhood was desperately missing a strong Oktoberfest celebration and Owner Podjasik’s mission was to remedy that. Guests were also desperately looking for a place to celebrate.
The first year, Podjasik wasn’t prepared for the influx of guests, thinking that the back parking lot would fit all the attendees, but it was not enough space. “We were packed. We didn’t know what to expect,” he explains. But this year, “we’re very prepared.”
In fact, Podjasik and his team will close down the street next to Glenview House, are renting a large tent, will have bands playing for nine hours, will be serving German food including brats and sauerkraut, and will offer Oktoberfest beers from a huge beer truck when they hold their annual event on Sept. 21 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
With an event that is forecasted to see around 1,500 people, Podjasik says security is an important issue. Extra security will be on hand and the Glenview police will stop in two or three times per day, he says. Additionally, volunteers will lend a hand during the 12-hour event. “We’re going to have more staff, less lines this year” he says, because they are now prepared.
Last year, overcrowding pushed patrons inside the restaurant, slowing down service. “Moving the Oktoberfest to the road will alleviate indoor stress and hopefully make things much smoother.”
Podjasik says the planning and execution takes time, effort and is an investment. “It’s not cheap to do” and it’s not easy to plan. “It takes months. It really does,” he says; starting with booking the band nine months ago. “We started planning for it last year during the same night it was going on,” he quips.
“Oktoberfest is my baby. You love to see it come to fruition. Planning it, it’s almost like having a baby; it’s a nine-month process.”
Looking ahead, Podjasik’s goals for this Oktoberfest are to continue to expand it over the next few years and eventually turn it into a two-day event. “We want to grow this as much as we can,” he says. “There is nothing up here (in the North Shore) as far as an awesome Oktoberfest.”
Podjasik hopes that months of planning and working through some of the unforeseen kinks during the inaugural event will ensure another successful event.
“I didn’t expect to make a profit (during the first Oktoberfest) and wanted to break even,” he says. “You don’t want to lose money.” But the return on investment is greater than the monetary benefits; it’s about creating loyal guests and making Glenview House’s reputation stronger in the community, Podjasik says. “That’s what we want to do.”