Long before Zoobie’s served its first Cosmos pizza, the popular Old Town establishment was known as Ed’s Bar. The Penny Picnic began as a game: If you were a regular and could fling a penny to the top of a shelf and have it land in a small plate, you were invited to Ed’s picnic.
This tradition continues July 21, 3 p.m., without the formerly required penny flinging.
Featuring picnic food favorites like handmade burgers, mac and cheese and beer from the sponsoring Deschutes Brewery in Oregon, the Zoobie’s patio will be bustling for a good cause.
Deschutes brewery and Zoobie’s ownership, Potent Potables Project, will both pledge $1 for every drink purchased — hoping to donate at least $1000 to the Pinecrest Parent Teacher Organization.
There will be live country music as well. Sault Ste. Marie-native and national touring artist, Melissa Lee Zenker, will open up the festivities from 3 to 6 p.m., followed by Lansing’s own Whiskey Diski & the Barrel Boys closing the night out from 7 to 11 p.m.
“When we first moved in, there was this great old picture of the first Ed’s Penny Picnic with this great banner that said ‘Ed’s Penny Picnic.’ We thought that’s an awesome idea,” said Samuel Short, CEO of the Potent Potables Project that also owns Punk Taco, the Cosmos and the Creole in Old Town.
“It was previously a beer garden, and we were thinking let’s do a backyard garden party called Ed’s Penny Picnic and we’ll relive it.”
Ed’s Penny Picnic is the latest in the patio party series Zoobie’s does throughout the year, said Short. “We actually do a number of patio parties. We start with Jungle Luau and end with Oktoberfest.”
Partnering with Deschutes Brewery was personal said Short. “My family is all from Oregon,” said Short. “My dad was a 4th generation Oregonian and he took me to Deschutes when I was a kid. We’d go and he'd have a beer and a bite to eat but now it’s this super enormous brewery.”
In its third year, Short said that he tries to seek out local charities in need for Ed’s Penny Picnic as well as other events throughout the year.
“We try and pick local charities exclusively for our charitable giving across the board because our dollars make a little more impact on locality because we know these people,” said Short. “They come and they are our customers as well.”
With friends that have kids in Pinecrest Elementary, Short said, “To be honest, the school has been in need of repairs for years, decades maybe. Any dollars we can put in the hands of in this case a PTO, we are talking about a 100 percent of every dollar goes toward children’s learning materials whether it is books or pens or whatever it looks like. There is no administration fee taken out of it.”
Short said that bars and restaurants are a part of the community and are responsible to contribute. “There are times when bars and restaurants are looked at occasionally in an unfavorable light. The idea that we can be a part of changing that and engaging the community in a positive manner is really important to us,” said Short.
“A community is stories and ideas really. It’s what brings us together: common goals, common charity interests, shared feelings and experiences,” Short added.
“If we can do that and at the same time reach out into the touchstone of history and help that grow and develop as part of community interaction, that’s something we’re always going to do.”
Other ways to donate include bringing school supplies and writing checks to the Pinecrest PTO.
There will be games like ladder ball and bags on the patio. Normal pizza service will continue as well.
For more information, visit Ed’s Penny Picnic Facebook event page.