Family puts new twist on corn

Published 1:21 pm Friday, May 28, 2010

At the recent Buck Creek Festival, many a festival-goer was seen immersed in eating an ear of roasted corn topped with delectable ingredients.

“Our Tex-Mex topping is a combination of cueso fresco, lime mayonnaise and Mama Ilga’s Salsa finished with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro,” said Steve Martinez of The Tail Gate, a family owned business new to this area.

“We also have the ‘Piece of Pizza’ variation combining Parmesan, garlic salt and Italian seasoning. And an awesome maple-cinnamon butter, which is great on corn or our roasted sweet potatoes.”

Martinez and wife, Paige, are embarking on a venture they hope will provide funds toward developing a future restaurant.

They have the support of both family and friends as Martinez parlays his bartending and restaurant experience — most recently as a server at Joe’s Italian — into his own business.

They joined Bill Shanahan, a retired videographer now devoted to the game of golf, and wife, Vickie; Paige’s parents; and her brother, Bryan, wife Michele and 8-year old daughter, Jordon, in donning yellow shirts and worn green Corn-Roaster aprons, while friend Eric Lovelady had dressed for the occasion in his best Mardi Gras beads and overalls.

He also whimsically embellished his straw hat and pockets with corn tassels and leaves.

It was Lovelady’s charm and schmoozing with passersby that helped gather the crowd round and had them departing, smiling happily, with corn stuck in their teeth.

“The Original Corn Roaster is the Cadillac of roasters — able to roast 500 ears of corn in one hour,” said Bill Shanahan. It also cooks sweet and baked potatoes using a conveyor system.

“After we found this product, things seemed to come together. It was the answer to our prayers for something we could do together as a family and for our kids,” said Vickie Shanahan.

“My family moved here from California via Atlanta,” Martinez says. “Grandma Martinez taught my mother, Ilga, to make tamales and she adapted the salsa recipe we have named after her.

The Tail Gate currently obtains corn from the Birmingham Farmer’s Market which rotates the produce from Florida, Georgia and Alabama through the growing season.

“We would love to support local farmers growing corn and would ask any farmers interested to get in touch with us,” at, Martinez said.

Tail Gate Corn Roaster hopes to have a presence this fall at Auburn and Alabama games.

They will be at the Alabaster City Fest, June 5 and Columbiana Liberty Day June 25-26.

Laura Brookhart can be reached by e–mail at