The Saratoga Potluck Society
Enough delicious food to share with a crowd. Check. Willingness to talk to strangers. Check. Exploring interesting new venues in Saratoga Springs. Check. The Saratoga Potluck Society is an opportunity to share food, make friends, and explore all that Saratoga Springs has to offer. And Lorenzo Gonzales is the man behind it all.
Gonzales, a Colorado native, grew up in a large family that revolved around food. Between him, his two younger brothers and two younger sisters, there were always friends around the dinner table every night. Every Sunday after church family and friends would gather for potluck dinners. “Dinner was all about the food but revolved around the conversation,” he said. “Everyone brought a dish and it was all about connecting with each other.”
When Gonzales moved to Saratoga Springs by way of Los Angeles a few years ago, he was searching for a way to meet people. “I had a friend coming from Nashville to visit me and I invited a bunch of people I’d met since moving here to a dinner. I think there was 19 of us total eating at Kraverie,” he said. Gonzales said he remembers at one point sitting back in his chair and watching all of the people he knew in one place interacting with each on an intimate level. “There is something about eating dinner together that gets people to look past barriers,” he said. “I realized that I liked making introductions with people that I know will connect but may never cross paths if not for me being the common denominator.”
It was after that dinner at Kraverie that Gonzales realized he might be able to connect even more people socially. This led to the inception of The Saratoga Potluck Society. In April 2016, Gonzales hosted the first Potluck Society dinner at Kru Coffee in Saratoga Springs. Forty people showed up with food. They were ready to eat and share in conversations. “It’s a really casual, fun time,” he said. “The group that comes together are diverse both in backgrounds and occupations.” Gonzales said that he enjoys watching people come together socially. “This is not a networking event. This is not an industry-driven event,” he said. “This is an opportunity to connect with each other on a more personal level. It is about being a person and letting relationships happen organically.” He said that the relationships formed at the Potluck Society dinners have resulted in business partnerships and friendships.
The Potluck Society has gained momentum in the months since it launched. In July 2017, Gonzales joined forces with Jillian Mayott, Kara Koenig and Allie Dockum from Saratoga Adventures. It was the perfect partnership between Gonzales’ invitation list and Saratoga Adventures’ ability to connect and promote local businesses in Saratoga Springs. Gonzales said about 60 people showed up to the Potluck Dinner at Sinclair Saratoga in downtown Saratoga Springs. “It’s all about getting people together in a cool place that is interesting,” he said. “It gives attention to local venues, especially since we try to do these events mid-week when business might be a little slower.”
Check them out on Facebook
All the Potluck Dinners are promoted through Facebook and anyone is invited to attend. The event is posted about two to four weeks in advance of the date. Gonzales will promote it with videos and messages. It was his hope to host Potluck Dinners for years to come, but it looks like life might have other plans for him. Although Gonzales has enjoyed calling Saratoga Springs home and cherishes the friendships he has made through the Potluck Dinners, it is time for him to move on. He revealed that he is relocating to Denver in the coming months for a job opportunity. However, he hopes that the Saratoga Potluck Society will continue in his absence.
“I can’t think of a better way to spend one evening a month than with everyone I consider to be a friend or colleague, especially if they all gather in one place. The chances of someone you know getting along with someone else in your network is very high given that you are the common link,” Gonzales said. “Establishing and perpetuating new relationships is far easier than I think some people realize and I’d love to see this continue without me. You can’t know what will come out of a relationship unless you let some time pass with mutual effort to see where you can take it. I hope that those that value relationships are able to discover this for themselves because I’ve had some amazing things happen in my life over the last few years as a result of this type of effort.”
The next Saratoga Potluck Society event is hitting the greater Capital District! Go meet and mingle at Fort Orange Brewing on North Pearl Street in Albany on November 15 from 6-10 p.m.
On November 21 from 6-10 p.m. head over to Sinclair Saratoga for an Ugly Sweater Party themed event!
Find Gonzales on Facebook for more information on either event.
by Emily Marcason-Tolmie