As of March 4, the Snack Shack at Volunteer Park is officially a full-time, independently operated eatery.
The red building in the center of Volunteer Park has always hosted a Little League concessions stand, but after volunteer-run concessions were phased out, Key Peninsula Parks overhauled the kitchen and opened the Snack Shack to be leased by a private operator. It will now function as a restaurant throughout the year, with extended hours.
“We’ve been getting really great support from the community,” said Rachel Velez, owner and operator. “They think it’s awesome that we’re changing it up a little bit. They want it to stay the Snack Shack, of course, because that’s what it is, but they like that we’re trying to make it for everybody, not just baseball.”
The new Snack Shack will continue to provide concessions during baseball season, but will also stay open year-round with a menu full of burgers, hot dogs and fries. “We want to get the word out so people will come off the street instead of waiting for baseball season,” Velez said.
Velez also plans to expand the menu, adding daily specials and more lunch offerings like soups and sandwiches. “In a perfect world, it would be like a diner,” she said. “We would do lunch and dinner, and I would do specials for dinner.”
The core menu won’t see too much change, however. “It’s always going to be a burger joint and I’m going to keep burgers on the menu,” she said.
Velez pursued a degree at Olympic College’s culinary school before moving into restaurant ownership and management in Tacoma and Bremerton, eventually moving to the Key Peninsula. When Key Pen Parks opened the option for someone to lease the Snack Shack, Velez’s family encouraged her to seize the opportunity. “[My daughter] called me and told me, ‘Mom, I’ve got something that would be perfect for you,’” Velez said. “I said no, but I thought about it and a week later I called Scott [Gallacher], who runs the park, and I met with him here. She was right; it was perfect for me and for what I like to do.”
Part of the Snack Shack’s history as a concession stand is its baseball-themed interior, which Velez intends to maintain. The decision was influenced by the large mural on the south wall depicting one of the original Key Peninsula baseball clubs from 1923. “That’s part of why we’re keeping the baseball theme, is due to that mural,” said Velez.
Velez’s only difficulty so far has been spreading the news; because the eatery still operates under the name The Snack Shack, it’s been difficult to get the word out that what was once a concession stand is now a full-time restaurant. “Baseball season is pretty much over now; that’s why we’re trying to get the word out. During games, we’re busy and people come in off the street. On days that there aren’t games? Not many. There’s not enough people who know about it right now,” she said.
While public awareness is still developing, the Snack Shack has benefited from positive word-of-mouth reviews and referrals, which make Velez hopeful for the future. “The community has been so great so far; they’ve been awesome,” she said. “I have nothing but great things to say about this place and about the people.”
As of mid-June, the Snack Shack is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday at Volunteer Park at 5514 Key Peninsula Hwy North. To see the menu or for more information, go to www.snackshack-volunteerpark.com, or call 858-6141.