The Hoosierist: Winter Barbecuing

Outdoor restaurant kitchens, Jumbotron proposals, and union actors. Ask The Hoosierist.

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Q: Even in winter, I see barbecue joints cooking food outdoors. Could any restaurant do that?
A: Though firing up an outdoor grill is the signature move of barbecue establishments, any type of restaurant is free to break out the Weber—as long as they meet a long list of niggling requirements set out by the Marion County Public Health Department. For instance, no food-preparation steps other than grilling are allowed outside. And when you finish cooking that steak or hot dog or whatever, it must be taken back to, and served from, the kitchen. Oh, and the cooking site has to be covered, and away from sources of potential contamination such as cars and birds. Which, come to think of it, doesn’t sound niggling at all. Finally, the grill can’t pose a nuisance to neighboring businesses. Which means it can’t be too smoky—or perhaps, as The Hoosierist instantly assumed, produce smells so enticing that it lures workers from their desks.

Q: I’ve seen some Broadway in Indianapolis shows here that say the performers are “Actors Equity.” What does that mean?
A: Put simply, the Actors Equity productions are union shops, and the others aren’t. Actors Equity has been around since 1913, doing such union-y things as negotiating wages and health benefits for thespians. Mostly because producers used to do all sorts of nasty things to actors, including requiring them to buy their own costumes and abandoning them in the middle of nowhere if the traveling show closed. You might notice a difference in enthusiasm levels between union and non-union productions. Cris Brielmaier, senior performance manager for Broadway in Indianapolis, says the performers in the series’s non-union shows really seem to give their hearts and souls onstage. “They tend to be younger and greener,” Brielmaier says. Perhaps they fret that if the production folds, they’ll get stranded in Flyover Country.

Q: I want to propose to my girlfriend on the Jumbotron at a Pacers game? What do I do?
A: Most likely, prepare to be disappointed. Dean Heaviland, a vice president for the Indiana Pacers, gets 15 to 20 requests a month for that very thing. “It sounds heartless, but you can’t do them all, because you’d have one every game,” he says. Fortunately, the team tries to accommodate nuptials announcers by placing proposals on the Bankers Life Fieldhouse LED ribbon board or having Boomer, the team mascot, deliver flowers. The Pacers allow a handful of proposals on the center video board (it’s not actually a Jumbotron) each season, but they’re planned months ahead. If you’d like to try for a slot, be sure to approach the team well in advance—a year or so. And it won’t hurt your chances if you’re a longtime season ticket–holder. Just saying.

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