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With baseball still on hold, Columbia Fireflies to begin holding restaurant nights


Segra Park

Take me out to the ball game — for a full-service restaurant?

That’s the plan at Segra Park, as COVID-19 continues to muck up its main role of hosting baseball games. While it’s unclear when (or if) the minor league Columbia Fireflies will start play this year, the team’s staff will begin hosting dinners in its Club Lounge on weekends, with a menu consisting of a mix of classic baseball fare — fried pickles, chicken wings — and what might be considered elevated ballgame fare, such as pulled pork wraps.

“One of the biggest reasons we’re here is for the people. To go so long without having people in our ballpark, it’s a horrible feeling,” Fireflies President John Katz tells Free Times.

The team will host diners on Fridays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and on Saturdays from 4:30 to 6:30 and 7 to 9 p.m. Katz details that the room will be far below full capacity, with 21 tables that are spaced between eight and 11 feet apart. The team will begin service this weekend by reservation.

Team staff welcomed some diners for a soft opening on Saturday as a test run, with ticket staff working as servers and food runners.

The team, an affiliate of the New York Mets, is still waiting to hear from Major League Baseball on what a potential 2020 season might look like, but Katz and his team have been brainstorming ways to re-engage with the community, he says. The restaurant idea came as part of that, and they’re considering other ways to eventually expand service to up to three days. They are also considering things like a movie night in the field, Katz teases.

The developing plans fit into what may go unnoticed at times. Katz shares that the team did about 300 non-baseball events last year.

“We want to be programming the venue as a place for people to gather,” he says.

Season ticket holders and other partners received the first chance to reserve dinner spots at the park on Monday. The team opened reservations to the general public on Tuesday.

David Clarey joined Free Times in November 2019 as a food and news writer. He's constantly fighting competing desires to try cooking food at home and spending his entire paycheck on Columbia restaurants.

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