By Shelli DeRobertis
Free summer concerts begin Sunday, July 15 in Scripps Park at La Jolla Cove, and the show will go on thanks to help from the neighborhood Vons, which has agreed to wash the dirty hotdog pots after each concert.
This year marks the 29th season that the group, Concerts By The Sea, has presented summer entertainment, which also includes concession stands selling hotdogs, chips, ice cream, popcorn and sodas. The proceeds from the sale of some 500 hotdogs per concert are used, in part, to fund the shows.
But this year, during a pre-concert inspection for the annual permit, county health officer Laura Costello found that the single compartment sink used to wash the pots — and the temperature of the hot water — were out of compliance. The organizers were operating under the wrong type of permit all those years past; their permit was for pre-pack- aged foods only.
The news, sent via a health depart- ment notice, came as a shock to the concert organizers just weeks before the first show and sent them scurrying for a remedy. “All we have in the way of dishes are three hot pots and two sets of tongs,” said Shirleymae Davis, president of Concerts By The Sea. “We’ve been washing them carefully for 28 years and no one’s ever gotten sick.”
Davis said there’s a large sink in the storeroom at the park that was built by the group.
The new permit requires a larger sink and hotter water — at least 100 degrees for hand washing and 120 degrees for pot washing. The water used by Concerts By The Sea tested at 59 degrees.
Steve Spence, of the county Department of Environmental Health said suitable alternatives were offered, which included utilizing a nearby permitted food facility’s ware-washing equipment to cleanse the dishes.
Concerts By The Sea explored that option, and the La Jolla Vons agreed to help out. The Vons on Girard is about a mile from the venue, and someone from the organization will transport the tongs and three large pots to be washed to the grocery store after each concert.
“We try to do what we can to be part of the community,” said store manager Jim Luft.
The Jamba Juice inside the Vons has a three-compartment sink for washing, rinsing and sanitizing, which is a requirement for any restaurant, he said.
Marilyn Kowal, a member of Concerts By The Sea, oversees the food concessions and recently was shown how to use the sink.
The health department, which ultimately processed the Concerts By The Sea application, also requires the organization complete written procedures that outline the preparation and service operations.
“We are working with the sponsor, and proposed solutions will allow the event to proceed as planned,” Spence said.
Laura DeBell, board secretary of Concerts By The Sea, said the solution is temporary and the group will likely be faced with the same issues next year.
■ Showtimes: 2-4 p.m. Sundays, Ellen Browning Scripps Park, 1180 Coast Blvd.
■ July 15: Big Time Operator, swing
■ July 22: Bill Magee Blues Band
■ July 29: Theo & the Zydeco Patrol, Cajun blues
■ Aug. 5: Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash, country/Americana
■ Aug. 12: Benny Hollman’s Big
Band Explosion, big band jazz
■ Aug. 19: Rockola
■ Aug. 26: Sue Palmer & Her Motel Swing Orchestra
■ Sept. 2: The Heroes, rock ‘n’ roll