Arts & Culture
6:19 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

New Berlin Restaurant Celebrates 'Festivus for the Rest of Us'

The Wagner Companies produce this "Festivus in a box," including a mini-Festivus Pole and instruction booklet.
Credit Wagner Companies

Lake Effect's Stephanie Lecci interviews Quaker Steak and Lube restaurant owner Scott Acker about Festivus.

Festivus may have started out as a joke on "Seinfeld," which is based famously in New York. But it’s become very much a Milwaukee celebration.

Not only are official Festivus Poles made by Milwaukee’s own Wagner Companies (one of which we might add adorns the Lake Effect bungalow), but there are several local observances of the fake holiday.

That includes Quaker Steak and Lube in New Berlin, which has been holding Festivus celebrations for about four years. It's inviting patrons to celebrate on Dec. 23th, the holiday's traditional date.

"It's kind of a funny, tongue-in-cheek celebration of the fun that's not had at holidays," says Scott Acker, the restaurant’s owner. "I think people want to come to Festivus because they too are kind of getting sick of being stuck in this 'buy stuff, run around, got to get that last minute gift, got to do everything last minute' in order to have a good time celebrating with friends and family."

Acker says there are several rules to properly celebrate a "Festivus for the Rest of Us:"

  • A Festivus Pole should be put out and remain unadorned. No lights or garland allowed.
  • Festivus-goers should participate in the "Airing of Grievances," complaints made publicly.
  • "Feats of Strength" must also be performed.

In Quaker Steak and Lube's version, the grievances aired usually involve the weather, kids not cleaning their rooms, disappointing sports teams, or dissatisfaction with government officials. Whoever writes the best grievances gets to arm-wrestle, in accordance with the feats of strength tradition. The winners get prizes.

But Acker says the most important aspect of the event is it's all done in the name of charity. Festivus-goers should bring non-perishable food items, which will be donated to the New Berlin Food Pantry. Acker hopes they will be able to donate 200 lbs. of food.

"That just makes it a little bit more special; it's not just a drinking thing or who has the biggest muscles or who has the biggest gripe," Acker says.

The Quaker Steak and Lube locations in Janesville and Middleton, Wis., will also be marking Festivus, and will donate to the Echo Food Pantry and River Food Pantry respectively.