FINE DINING WRAPPED IN FOIL
In our interview with Tim Restall, Tim mentioned that he approaches F&B as if he’s running a restaurant. This makes perfect sense. For those that you have won over with baseball and promotions, they will still enjoy having a good meal. You should also embrace the fact that people NEED to eat. When your community ponders where to go out to eat your ballpark should be on their minds. You serve up fun, but do you serve up great food?
HOW DO YOU COMPETE WITH OTHER RESTAURANTS?
As you approach your F&B you need to think about...
Attention to detail: hot food should be hot, do you have napkins or wet wipes available with messy foods.
Consistency of quality: What do your fries taste like? I don’t mean on busy nights when they don’t sit or when a certain manager is working a stand. Fans want to enjoy something and know what to expect next time. I’m a crispy fry girl. If I got crispy fries once but not the next time, you’ve lost me.
Service: Great service can elevate average food. This is why you prepare your staff to not just to cook and sell food but to be a part of your atmosphere and to be friendly, informed and fun.
Put personality into the food, décor, and service: A small example is a tiki bar. Fruity drinks really do taste better with an umbrella, served by someone in a Hawaiian shirt but you can get much more creative than this.
You need one or more unique features: This could be a unique food item or a unique way to serve your food like nachos in a mascot head. This could also refer to your service. Do you ring a bell to celebrate when a certain item is sold? What sticks out about eating at your ballpark?
PROMOTE YOUR FOOD
1. Foodie photos: If you log onto Instagram, you’ll see that food porn is alive and well. Arguably the very best way to promote your ballpark cuisine online is with great photos to draw in the hungry eyes.
Promote user generated content: Even better than just looking at food items are selfies of your fans eating those food items. Images of delicious, creative items being consumed is a great piece of promotion for you.
2. Don’t just be your own critic, invite one: Have you ever thought about inviting a food critic/ food blogger to your ballpark? Why not? Restaurants do this. This would be a different experience for them for sure. Find a time when you have a suite or unique spot open. Make sure they have the opportunity to sample a little bit of everything that your ballpark has to offer. More importantly, invite them to attend along with their family if they have one.
3. Local ingredients: Tim talked about Neighborhoods throughout the ballpark with different food items and corresponding atmosphere. That kind of sounds like Epcot. In Hartford, the chowder is an item that has some local flair. Tim also mentioned an amazing partnership with a local brewery. Another neat idea could be local ingredients. Let’s be honest it’s a cool story to have local farm fresh tomatoes on your burgers or a corn stand with local corn. When you learn about different cultures food is always mentioned. What food(s) are a huge part of your local culture and do you have them at your ballpark?
The Cleveland Indians have named a sandwich the Parmageddon. (USA Today’s Best Ballpark Food of 2016 fan vote). It’s a Great Lakes twist on grilled cheese, with a potato and onion pierogi, onions and sauerkraut between two pieces of bread and some cheddar.
The Detroit Tigers have Grecian French Fries: Playing off of Detroit’s Greek heritage, you can find these fries—covered in gyro meat, tzatziki, feta, cucumber, tomato and olives.
Restaurants are all trying to differentiate themselves. What does your restaurant have that most don’t? The easy answer is live sports, a mascot, and a videoboard. If you have pre and post game concerts and happy hours are you promoting these like bars do?