Photo of Hot Luck Austin sign

The Hot Luck Austin sign shines at Franklin Barbecue at the 2017 festival. (Photo ©Gary Jacobson/Texas BBQ Posse)

Hot Luck, a food and music festival in Austin, is preparing for its second run in May.

And in the festival business, as James Moody, one of Hot Luck's founders, was saying, you’re supposed to lose money year one, break even year two and make money year three.

Moody and Aaron Franklin, another founder, say Hot Luck broke even — broadly speaking — last year, its first.

“So, you’re ahead of the game?” I asked Moody at a recent party for the press and Hot Luck supporters.

“We’ll see after this year,” he answered.

Moody owns The Mohawk in Austin and runs Guerilla Suit, a marketing agency. Gotta love the guiding philosophy stated on the Guerilla Suit Web site: “We are co-conspirators with like-minded people and brands who aren’t afraid to break things.”

Franklin, of course, is the smoked meat maestro behind Franklin Barbecue. The third partner involved in Hot Fest is Mike Thelin, a co-founder of Feast Portland, a food and drink celebration of the Pacific Northwest that began in 2012.

Since its beginning, Feast Portland has grown steadily with annual attendance approaching 20,000. Hot Luck said 6,500 “patrons” attended in 2017.

Along with the food, one of best things about Hot Luck last year was the intimacy. No lines, or very short ones, at all the food and drink stations allowing lots of opportunity to talk to the participating chefs, especially on nights they weren’t serving.

In a wrap-up story last year, I cautioned that going forward there could be a delicate balance between growing the festival and maintaining that cozy feel.

Moody and Franklin say they are aware of the issue.

“More chefs, more music, larger venues,” Moody said of this year’s event.

“It will be better, a little bigger, but still feel incredibly small,” Franklin said.

Hot Luck runs May 24-27. Opening night is again at Franklin Barbecue, where you eat outside with a view of the State Capitol building. Participating chefs number more than 40 from around the state and country. Barbecue honchos include Chris Shepherd from Underbelly in Houston, Miguel Vidal from Valentina’s Tex-Mex in Austin, Billy Durney from Hometown Barbecue in New York, and Sam Jones from Sam Jones BBQ Restaurant in North Carolina.

The Austin Chronicle, Texas Monthly, and CultureMap Austin have good roundups of the musical acts and other participating chefs.

Tickets and a listing of all the events are available here.

Over its life, Feast Portland has raised more than $300,000 for charities working to end childhood hunger. After year one, Hot Luck donated $6,000 to the SAFE Alliance, which serves the survivors of child abuse, sexual assault and exploitation. This year, a portion of the Hot Luck proceeds will again go to SAFE.

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