Live reggae music spilled over into the parking lot. The smell of good food wafted from a circle of food trucks. Parking was at a premium.
Garfield's Restaurant, 2620 Regatta Drive, took things outside Feb. 25 for a family-friendly festival simply called the Garfield's Food Truck & Concert Event. It was so successful, the restaurant plans to host another one from 6 to 11 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free.
The February event coincided with Garfield's revamping its menu with an eye toward being "a lot hipper," said executive chef Jean Paul Labadie. "The menu is just the beginning. Garfield's has been open for about three years now and is doing OK. Still, things are kind of mellow ... So we figured, how can we bring people in, appear cooler? You can't get any more cooler than food trucks, reggae and good food."
That good food included chicken katsu kaba curry, hot dogs, fried pickles, soups, salads, sandwiches, tacos and, for dessert, shaved ice. Garfield's offered its own outdoor food -- lamb sliders and ropa veja potato cakes with chimichurri sauce.
Jan Scarborough stood outside her food truck, the Rusty Pickle, and took orders on a handheld device. Inside the truck, Eva Lebrilla, a student at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, worked nonstop. Patrons unfamiliar with the menu asked questions about the food.
"It's spicy," Scarborough told one man, "but it's not heartburn spicy."
The music volume jumped up a notch every time the door was opened. Those who forgot jackets clustered around the heat lamps. Children tugged on their parent's sleeve to point out the shaved ice truck.
Garfield's Food Truck & Concert Event was an experiment, said Labadie, to see if the community would turn out.
"If Summerlin can support us on a monthly basis, we would love to do that," said Labadie, who was credited with suggesting the event. "We may start earlier, like 5 o'clock, or we might do it on Sundays so it's more a family thing. And the room across from us, we have for artists -- the jewelry maker, this sculptor, a photographer and a painter -- so we're trying to give a whole festival feel to it."
Kevin Celestino was visiting his cousin Melissa, who lives at Mountain's Edge. What did he think of the event?
"It's cool," he said. "We don't have anything like this in Arizona, or at least I haven't heard of anything like this. It's a really good idea."
As for Melissa Celestino, she said the food truck concept was what brought her there.
"It's something different. I think Vegas needs more of this cultural kind of thing," she said.
Fabian Vincent of Summerlin said it was nice to have an event off the Strip and to have a variety of foods in one place to sample.
"Las Vegas is finally becoming a kind of a cultural, ethnic mix of things, especially the foods and the food lifestyle," he said. "Nora's closed and Rosemary's closed, even though they had a great following ... I think (businesses) need to reinvent themselves, change things. (You can't) stay within that mold anymore. Get out of your comfort zone."
Jodi Labadie said she really liked her husband's food truck idea.
"They have them at the big events down on the Strip," she said. "But there, it's really late at night. So it's kind of nice that it's off the Strip and in a neighborhood like this. It's not so late at night. I mean, I have my kids here."
She had brought her sons, ages 12 and 15.
"All I'm doing is opening my purse and handing them money for food, so they're happy," she said. "They love it."
Garfield's is owned by Erik and Val Watts. He noted that even with the parking lot full of people, Garfield's was enjoying its own crowd of patrons.
"You get as much as you want here," he said.
"Some people think Garfield's has a reputation as a gourmet restaurant and say they never went to dinner there. That's fine, if that's what you want. But if you ... want ... music and entertainment, then come to this side of town. You can say we're offering everything for everybody. This is the happening side of town."
Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at email@example.com or 387-2949.