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Nick Nicora, co-owner of Ovations Food Services and operator of about half a dozen Cantina Hussong’s food stands across California thinks outside the box in a very big way to attract new customers to his food stands. This food stand operator used a 10,500 gallon Margarita to seal a big deal.

This isn’t your typical “thinking outside the box, innovative food stand operator, creative genius story”, but then again, Nick Nicora isn’t your typical food stand operator. In the 80′s, Nick developed a back-stage catering company with Bill Graham (Bill Graham Presents), providing catering to performers such as Rod Stewart, Bob Dillan, George Thoroughgood and many others. He formed FanFare Enterprises with business partner, Charlie Neary in 1988, and the two set out on a mission to bring gourmet catered food to the street.

Street food hadn’t gained the popularity it has today, and most street food operators were selling pre-cooked and pre-packaged foods. Nick and Charlie wanted to bring a gourmet food experience to everyday people from food stands. Nick started with his Cantina Hussong’s food stands – an exact replica of the most popular bar/grill destination in Ensenada, Mexico, but in a portable food stand.

Setting their cross hairs on county fairgrounds where hundreds of thousands of people attend throughout the year, Nick secured a massive volume of foot traffic directly to his food stands. He and Charlie quickly discovered that fair goers craved something beyond cotton candy and funnel cake, and loved the idea of gourmet dining at a food stand.

Nick and Charlie didn’t stop after creating their Cantina Hussong’s stands throughout California. They partnered with Ovations Food Services, and created what Nick calls “interactive street food destinations” – not your typical food stands, including Blues n Brews, a Jazz/Blues bar and grill, Baja Blues, featuring cross-over entertainment, Sliders, a sports bar and grill, and Big Bear BBQ, a country corral. Today, Nick employs more than ten executive chefs and 20 sous chefs at venues spanning the state.

During contract renewal negotiations with the California State Fair at Cal Expo in Sacramento earlier this year, Nick proposed an attention-getter that tipped the scales in his favor to keep the Ovations Food Services stands operating on the fairgrounds for another ten years. He made them a Margarita – the World’s Largest Margarita, at that.

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About the Author

Chris Ford is the founder of Stitches 'n Dishes and editor in chief with a passion for food, photography and travel. Chris is a Media Correspondent for the Food Network TV show, Eat St, a syndicated blogger, seasoned event organizer and promoter, a food critic, a marketing consultant and Social Media Marketing expert. Chris is also a fashion and entertainment photographer. When he's not dining on the sidewalk, he's snapping photos on the catwalk.