Food festivals and weekend brunch have some noticeable similarities — they can both be over-hyped and ultimately disappointing, the presence of bottomless drinks notwithstanding — and so a food festival dedicated to the very concept of brunch, BrunchCon, actually makes a certain kind of sense.
The roaming event, which was described as a “drunken hellscape” when first staged in Brooklyn last year, was only a little tipsy when it arrived yesterday in San Francisco, and not quite a hellscape, unless your very specific idea of eternal damnation is waiting in long lines for small portions of Millionaire’s bacon. Mostly, BrunchCon captured what brunch is all about — serious crowds eagerly embracing the life of leisure and luxury that “brunch” has come to signify, and having an okay time doing so.
The scene of the crime was the San Francisco Armory at 14th and Mission, but by the standards of that building, which was most recently home to BDSM porn studio Kink.com, BrunchCon was pretty vanilla. Tickets to the all-inclusive event were $45 general admission and $85 for VIPs, who were granted early entry, with the event spaced out into two groups, one morning and one afternoon, for crowd control purposes. All 2,500 BrunchCon tickets sold out, according to event organizers, and unlike the first instance of BrunchCon in New York, no one called loudly on Twitter for their money back.
Small bites included mini pancakes, french toast, and mochi muffins from vendors like Firebrand Artisan breads, Linea Cafe, and Third Culture Bakery. But with long lines for almost anything to eat, it was much easier to get bloody Marys and mimosas, a dangerous formula. The official line was that mimosas were one-to-one champagne to orange juice —“It’s a brunch thing, so people get pretty serious about their mimosas” said one server pouring them. But anyone would be forgiven for going a little lighter on the champagne to keep the crowd in check, and they definitely tasted heavy on OJ.
As at any real convention, booths at BrunchCon gave out swag and sold merch. One vendor had Chambongs, which are like beer bongs, but for champagne, and a table from Lyft gave out totes that read “brunch so hard mimosas wanna find me,” a phrase so many degrees removed from its lyrical basis in a Jay-Z/Kanye song as to be completely meaningless.
Also in convention style, passionate brunchers were free to network with other enthusiasts and professionals. Lisa Renee Johnson and Joy Gerner, for example, were two fast friends who met in line for food. Gerner came with a group from Union City, while Johnson was in San Francisco from Antioch on her way to a Warriors game. To avoid the lines for most items, Johnson confessed, they had started with dessert. “We’re rule breakers,” she laughed.
Really, that’s not so bad.