At this time about a year ago, the United States Golf Association had yet to finalize its parking plan in preparation for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay. But Puyallup Sumner Chamber President and CEO Shelly Schlumpf had an inkling that plan would include the Western Washington Fairgrounds in Puyallup.
Schlumpf wanted to have plenty of time to mobilize chamber members so they could find a way to best welcome Open attendees when they parked and returned to their cars in the fair lot. Once the USGA announced the finalized parking plan in April, which did indeed include Puyallup, Schlumpf sprang into action.
“It’s been like drinking water out of a fire hose,” Schlumpf said of the plan to mobilize.
Schlumpf and her team have put together quite the Welcome Wagon for Open visitors. Plans for the week of the Open include a Visitor Information Booth (a trailer they are borrowing from Pierce County) located in the Cattin’s Restaurant parking lot. They are also partnering with the Tacoma Regional Convention and Visitor Bureau and Pierce County for volunteers — who will be clad in bright green shirts — to help with a concierge program to assist visitors parking in the Fairgrounds parking lots. The trailer will have bright signage asking visitors if they need assistance. The booth will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. June 15 to 18 and 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. June 19 to 21.
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“The goal is to have (tournament attendees) not get in their car and drive away,” Schlumpf said.
A group of local restaurants, calling themselves Puyallup Area Restaurants (PAR for short), have also come together to ramp up Open-themed dishes and decor. Schlumpf and her team have encouraged them to increase staff and order additional inventory to meet the needs of increased visitors.
Some local spots are embracing the Open through visible additions to their menus. Anthem Coffee and Tea in downtown is adding a Ryan Moore Mocha to its menu to strum up support for Cascade Christian High alum. Creative bartenders at Toscanos are adding cocktails such as the Chambers Bay Breeze, Ryan’s Northwest Driver, the Links Lemon Drop and Ken’s Still. The Ram Brewery at its South Hill location will debut its Lone Tree brew on Friday — an ode to the iconic single fir tree located behind the green on the 15th hole.
“It was a fun opportunity for us to do something (for the Open),” said Dave Leonard, the Ram’s director of Brewery Operations. “It’s a great summertime beer. It has a nice lite and crisp style.”
Charlie’s Restaurant will offer patrons a chance to get out of their chairs and putt on a set up green for the chance to win a free drink.
The restaurants are even willing to transport visitors from the parking lots via shuttles. There will be three routes that will have buses circulating on, one for each route. There will be a downtown route, an East Main route and a South Hill Mall route. Visitors will be able to board the shuttles near the information booth to visit the local restaurants and enjoy a meal before driving home.
The goal is to leave out-of-town visitors with a lasting impression of Puyallup — and perhaps has them thinking of Puyallup as a possible place to relocate.
“We want it to be something that lasts beyond the days they are here (visiting),” Schlumpf said.