Amidst the farms and pastures in Lancaster County sits Rock Lititz, a popular hub for A-list musicians. The 96-acre campus was designed to be a “one-stop shop” for artists preparing to head out on tour.
Rock Lititz Studio opened five years ago and is the heart of the sprawling complex, drawing in musicians like Taylor Swift, Usher and Ariana Grande. Rock Lititz is also a local destination for those drawn to the businesses on campus open to the public, with plans for further growth.
“The idea behind the campus grew from a community of live event companies that had already established themselves in Lititz,” said General Manager Andrea Shirk.
The Clair Brothers (audio enterprises) and TAIT (stage and lighting designers and builders) were the two original companies. ATOMIC Design (soft goods set design and production) and Pyrotek Special Effects have since opened on site. The Rock Lititz campus now employs 405 workers.
Shirk described the Rock Lititz Studio in “POD 2” as a place “where touring concerts can install, test and rehearse their productions before opening night, in a location close to key vendors.” In all, there are 30 companies in POD 2, a 250,000-square-foot collaborative community.
Many of these businesses participate in Rock Lititz’s signature community event, which is centered around Halloween. The 3rd annual “Shock the Block” is expected to again draw thousands this month during a night of “treats and family-friendly Halloween thrills,” said Jill Brown, media relations.
Brown described the event as a time when the entertainment industry companies “combine their creativity and special effects to create an indoor array of activities.”
Shock the Block features attractions like hayrides, a children’s dance party, indoor trick or treating, fall-themed crafts, a donut eating contest and a “Shock Zone” for older kids. The haunted house features concert-quality special effects, including lasers, smoke, fire and water. Admission to the ticketed event benefits the Warwick Education Foundation.
Other businesses in POD 2 include the Tone Tailors guitar studio, Evolution Power Yoga and Fetish Brewing Co. POD 2 is also home to CM Entertainment Training Center and recROC, a recreational area with a rock-climbing wall and ninja warrior obstacle course.
Lots of Creativity
The most recent major addition to Rock Lititz is the Rock Lititz Hotel, which opened last year to accommodate musicians and their road crews, as well as wedding guests, event patrons and just visitors. While the hotel keeps to the music theme, Brown said they “didn’t want to be like a Hard Rock” and looked to local craftsmen, including Amish carpenters, for a custom build and boutique feel.
Erica Dabose is sales coordinator at the 139-room hotel, which includes two luxury penthouses that offer musicians a private elevator. Rooms feature custom-made wallpaper that uses backstage passes from concerts over the past 40 years. Common areas throughout the hotel incorporate items from actual concert sets and aim for what Dabose called “backstage vibes and Lancaster charm.” She added that guests can even request a barn view room, because “part of Lititz’s charm are the views, the cornfields and barns.”
Deborah Erb is owner and lead planner of Simply Events at Rock Lititz, which launched less than a year ago. She said that her company offers “a unique atmosphere and fun space” in central PA.
“There is a lot of creativity that can happen here that can’t happen at a regular hotel and event space,” Erb said.
All food service on campus is handled by TFB Hospitality. This includes the Per Diem restaurant in the hotel, which features farm-to-table seasonal fare and craft cocktails, the catering business that services the Rock Lititz Studio, and the casual eatery Gravie Kitchen Commons in POD 2.
TFB President and CEO Joshua Funk explained that the restaurant’s name ties to the campus theme because a “per diem” is the daily expense allowance given to those touring with a band. Besides catering to musicians, Funk estimates that 75 to 80 percent of the restaurant’s customers are local.
“From our perspective, we’ve seen people travel down that interstate and 283 corridor from Reading, Ephrata, Manheim, Hershey, Harrisburg and York,” Funk said. “We’d like the word about all that Rock Lititz has to offer to spread organically, if we’re doing our job.”
Funk said that Per Diem’s menu will change up for the fall/winter, when they bring back last year’s Smokey Old Fashioned drink. In addition, many products are from local producers, including Fox Meadows Creamery, Caputo Brothers, Kegel’s Produce and several local farms like Village Crest, Field’s Edge and Barr’s Farms.
This fall, Per Diem will also offer a “fire pit package” with a s’mores-making kit and blanket for those who want to use the outside fire pit.
While POD 1 is still on the horizon, Client and Community Development Manager Rachel Hales said that Rock Lititz “will definitely have future buildings.”
“That was always the vision,” she said. “It’s been fluid based on demands.”
Rock Lititz is located at 100 Rock Lititz Blvd., Lititz. For more information, call 717-626-0338 or visit www.rocklititz.com.
Hotel Rock Lititz is located at 50 Rock Lititz Blvd., Lititz. For more information, call 717-925-7625 or visit www.hotelrocklititz.com.
Shock the Block takes place Thursday, Oct. 24, 5:30 to 8 p.m. For more information, visit the Facebook page: Shock the Block at Rock Lititz.