Saturday, November 24, 2007

More On The Menu With Centerplate


Sohna and I hope that all of you had a Very Happy Thanksgiving with your Families. And, that all that gobbled down food was good and enjoyable. There is nothing like eating a well cooked meal. Nothing like savoring a Home Cooked Meal with friends and family. Which brings me to the topic of today's post--Food.

For some time now--Centerplate, the new concessionaire at New Nationals Park kindly has kept me informed about their progress on South Capitol Street. In fact, we have a scheduled meeting this coming week to discuss the latest update. But, before we meet, I am interested in hearing more from you. Some updated thoughts concerning fans wants and desires at New Nationals Park--when it comes to concessions.


Like before--when this question was asked--all those original responses were forwarded to Centerplate. And, as promised--they seriously looked into each and every one's desires. This week, I am expecting to hear their feedback from those comments. Interestingly, in that first post, Five Guys Burgers was prominently mentioned. Now, this is slightly off topic and has nothing to do with Centerplate--but when Sohna and I visited the new ballpark for the Grass Unveiling Press Conference--we both noticed a Brand New "Five Guys" Burger Restaurant on 2nd Street, SE. This particular chain is located directly across the street from the East Entrance/Exit to The Navy Yard Metro--on the other side of the building which houses a CVS Pharmacy on New Jersey Avenue, SE. Five Guys total distance from New Nationals Park--One Block--less than a five minute walk.

There are many issues on the table with Centerplate. Some of which will center around whether fans want more than just Hot Dogs, Hamburgers and a Cold Beer. So, are you interested, at times--in something a little different? Are you willing to fancy something not usually on a ballpark menu? Would you be interested in healthy fair? What would you like YOUR KIDS to have available to them--other than the usual Cotton Candy and Ice Cream? Would you have time, occasionally, to actually sit down and enjoy a Pre-Game Meal? That last question--asked outside of Diamond Club and Presidents Club Seating and those patrons?

In my short time dealing with Centerplate--they have been nothing short of actively involved in finding the best mix for, not only their business, but Our Washington Nationals business, and their Fans wishes, as well. Granted, they do have a very tight turnaround time to get New Nationals Park up and running come March 29, 2008. And, not every one's whats and desires will be included on the ballpark menu. Nor, is it likely that everything Centerplate wishes to implement on South Capitol Street will be 100% ready come that first GameDay. But, that doesn't mean Good Changes for EVERYONE are not on the way.

If you have time--please leave your comments here and they will be forwarded to Centerplate, again. Seemingly, Centerplate understands--we are all in this together. Hopefully, in the long run--a better ballpark experience can be had by EVERY SINGLE FAN.

36 comments:

janet said...

SBF and Sohna -- hope you had great Thanksgiving! Thanks for your research with Centerplate. While I think a ballpark should have ballpark fare, I'd love to see some healthy alternatives somewhere in the concessions menus. Fruit smoothies, or frozen yogurt, would be nice, especially when we have those hot steamy Washington summer days. (Of course, I'd still enjoy the soft ice cream cones and flavored ices that I indulged in at RFK).

I think I would occasionally be interested in a sit down meal before a ballgame, but I hope it's still okay to bring in sandwiches and water.

If Centerplate is doing all the merchandising, I'd like to see things like sun screen, spot remover, camera batteries and/or disposable cameras at the team store. (Ear plugs and aspirin might be useful, too, for folks with headaches). Maybe even post cards and postage stamps, since the ballpark will have worldwide renown.

Brandon said...

SBF! Thanks for all the work you do to maximize the fan experience.

A few local fare items I'd like to see:

-Red Hot and Blue (hope they are still on the menu)

-Ben's Chili Bowl (a D.C. icon)

-Five Guys

-Hard Times Chili (would be particularly excellent on cold April nights)

-Capitol City Brewing Company beers

-Chicken Out food stand

-Some pizza that doesn't taste like crap

-Cheesesteaks that don't taste like crap

I'll second Janet's desire for smoothies/frozen yogurt.

I'd also love to see people have the opportunity for a pre-game sitdown meal at the park. I could be wrong, but it seems to me like the current in-park restaurants are reserved only for fans sitting in nearby section. My family and friends enjoyed the opportunity to sit eat at the Red Hot and Blue porch instead of sloshing, spilling and nervously balancing food in our section 526 seats at RFK.

Anonymous said...

SBF-

As someone with a food allergy (peanut), please make sure they will be accommodating.

An Briosca Mor said...

Is the Centerfield Club restaurant only open to people who are sitting in the Centerfield Club and Centerfield Lounge seats? I know the three clubs behind the plate are only open to people sitting in their respective sections, but for some reason I was thinking that the CF restaurant would be open to anyone. Does anyone know the true story on that one?

Anonymous said...

Helmet sundaes.

Screech's Best Friend said...

an briosca mor: Centerfield Restaurant is OPEN to EVERYONE. The only difference is that ticket holders that sit in that section in front of the restaurant have a food credit for their seats to sit in that area. Otherwise--no other differences for others.

An Briosca Mor said...

Starbuck's, Caribou or some other upscale coffee/latte place would be nice. Hell, after not being able to find coffee at RFK during those cold April games, ANY coffee place in the stadium would be nice. Murky (Capitol Hill, Clarendon) or Mayorga (Silver Spring) would be good local coffee choices.

If there's barbecue (and there had better be) it needs to be smoked on-site rather than trucked in and reheated as Red Hot and Blue did at RFK.

Even though there's a Five Guys outside, having one inside as well would still be good. Their fries are the best!

If the intent is to reflect the DC dining scene, go ethnic. Thai, sushi, Mexican (e.g. Rio Grande Cafe, Austin Grill, etc), Indian, etc. Lots of good finger-food or street-food possibilities there.

Whatever food choices there are, they need to be spread out so that all areas of the stadium (including the upper concourse) have equal access to EVERYTHING.

At RFK, I didn't eat from anywhere a second time except for the Dominic's stands and the Mezzanine Food Court. Everything else I had there was crap. So that's my minimum standard for the new park - whatever there is needs to be at least as good as Dominic's and the Food Court.

And yes, count one more vote for helmet sundaes!

SkinsInsider said...

I can't tell you how disappointed I am whenever I go to a DC sports game and all I see is Domino's or Papa John's Pizza. IMHO, these are 2 of worst pizza places in the area.

If it were up to me, I'd try to work a deal with Giuseppi's Pizza in Rockville to provide pizza for the new park. Or at least have a stand or 2. (301) 424-0413

(Zpizza would be my #2 choice)

It would be nice to get a big slice (or 2) of REAL pizza. They do a great job of pizza by the slice in a lot of cities, there is no reason we can't do it at the stadium.

Imagine being able to knock back a big 'ol tasty slice w/ pepperoni with your cold beer or soda.
Mmmm......pizza....

If you have never been to Giuseppi's they are in downtown Rockville in the same strip as the movie theater.

WFY said...

Above all else, I want competent service from the stands I visit. I couldn't get over the inefficiencies of the staff at RFK concessions. I would have to put a lot of effort into making myself that inefficient.

Secondly, vendors selling more than beverages in the stands.

Lastly, Ben's Chili Bowl or Hard Times. While I prefer HT over Ben's a little bit, Ben's is uniquely D.C. and I think that counts for something. Of course, Ben's or Hard Times may not be interested...

Anonymous said...

SBF-
Thanks for passing on our suggestions! I would pipe up for the vegetarian baseball fans out there. Nachos and fries really aren't a solution to vegetarian fare. I agree with the suggestion of ethnic items - papusas, samosas, and pad thai are all nice options. If food was at the stadium, I would buy it. As it was for the past three years, I went to Tortilla Cafe at Eastern Market before every game.

Add me in for helmet sundaes. My collection of helmets needs to expand.

Screech's Best Friend said...

Janet: At RFK Stadium, there were 3 different First Aid Stations. At those places, the medics & nurses provided aspirin, sudafed, other medicine for patrons that were in need--FREE. Twice over the three years of Nats Baseball at RFK--Sohna went there for relief. I am certain that First Aid will continue at New Nationals Park--free also.

Its occurred to me that many may not have known this. One of the First Aid Facilities at RFK was just two tunnels down from all of us in Section 320--toward the left field line.

Brandon said...

Yes! Helmet sundaes! Helmet chili! Helmet dippin' dots! Just give us helmets! I always loved those things as a kid and want my daughter to experience the same joy.

For awhile (at Cincinnati Reds games in the '80s) you never knew which N.L. batting helmet you were going to get. Toward the end of my childhood you always got a Reds helmet. The mix 'n match was the best and is good business sense...keeps people buying sundaes to collect all 30 teams!

I can't wait to get a Phillies one to use to clean up after the dog on road trips...ahahahaha!

Jim H said...

SBF...

I also like the idea of some healthy food choices. As well, it would help all those who may be on some kind of diet if nutritional information were available for all foods throughout the stadium. Some folks use points from WW, others look at calories, or fat, or sodium, etc. Having the standard nutritional information would help folks who were focused on some kind of diet to see where a particular food stands, and to make informed choices.

As a full season ticket holder, I can't just do dogs, pizza, beer every night. That's why I appreciated being able to get a simple turkey sandwich at the deli stand behind 320. (Altman's? Yes, there should be a similar place at Nats' Stadium.)

I'd like some alternatives that allow me to be "good" when I want to. At the same time, when I want to indulge, having the nutritional information would be helpful in understanding the length to which I'd indulged.

paul said...

I also like healthy food, too, having inherited sclerosis genes. (Five Guys in our family = 20 bypassed arteries.)

So here are some ideas:
1. Fruit cups. If WaWa can have fruit cups, then why not a ballpark?
2. Veggie sandwiches. Verizon Center has nice veggie sandwiches that could be easily replicated.
3. Peanuts, and not ones loaded with salt. (I also have inherited the hypertension gene.) How about good old peanuts roasted in the shell WITHOUT salt? Or has that bit of nostalgia gone the way of the complete game? (Sorry, you allergic types.)

This is a strange time to be talking about food, feeling as bloated as I am right now. And just three days ago I was craving pie.

janet said...

SBF -- I guess I'd heard that there were first aid stations, but with three in a facility the size of RFK stadium, I wouldn't have known where to look for them. Maybe with better signage (or more of them, if that's possible), they'd be easier to find at the new ballpark.

I agree with everyone on the helmet sundaes and the coffee. I remember an early May night game when my friends walked all over RFK looking for something warm to drink. And real pizza and good sandwiches would also be nice.

Agree with the call for beverage vendors in the stands, preferably with choices other than beer. I noticed a big difference between the coverage in the lower deck and the upper deck at RFK. My worst experience was one Sunday when I sat in 526 with a 12 year old -- we didn't see a lemonade/water vendor after the third inning, although the beer guys kept coming.

MissChatter said...

I'd love to have good cheese fries as an option. Not with nacho cheese, but goopy cheese just for fries!

Anonymous said...

SBF, Thanks for the continued coverage!

Here's my list:

- For BBQ, make it Dixie Bones! It's way better than Red Hot and Blue.
- I wonder if there are any plans to feature Senators players similar to Boogs at Camden Yards. It would be incredible if we had Hondo there greeting folks and signing autographs!
- A stand selling Cuban food would be nice themed around some old Cuban Senators players.
- For ice cream, they should offer custard. If I think of great local ice cream, the Frozen Dairy Bar in Falls Church or Carls in Fredericksburg comes to mind.

Also, please ask Centerplate if they plan to purchase food from local food distributors. Do they have a web site with information on how local companies can do business with them?

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Went to a few games at Yankee Stadium this year, where Centerplate is the vendor. Mostly positive experience. Good and interesting variety, etc. Only drawback is that in the really fancy seats behind home plate, where folks come around taking orders, rather than just having hot dog and beer guys wandering the ailes peddling their wares, the "servers" were far too hard to find, and it took way too long to deliver an "order." I'd do without that "personal service," and trade it for the guys coming up and down the aisles -- yelling "beer here" -- in a second. This wasn't a big deal. But if they are gathering feedback, I thought I'd share this.

Edward J. Cunningham said...

Well, it would be nice if the centerfield restaurant were Hooters, but that doesn't really have anything to do with the quality of the food now, does it? LOL

My suggestion would be to allow options for those fans who are at least trying to eat more healthily. I realize most fans will prefer a hot dog to a salad and a beer to bottled water or a smoothie, but if you can get a bit more than the "usual suspects", that would be great!

Tom said...

Hope you too had a happy Thanksgiving!
The combination of beautiful weather and a be u ti ful bride made the wedding just perfect!

By the way:
When does Nats320 get the designation "Official Blog of the Washington Nationals"?

Should someone just tell Ladsen to stay home because he isn't able to keep up with all the information we get from a lone blogger who cares?

Anonymous said...

Quiznos? Noes? Baja Fresh? Jamba Juice?

I can only do fries and dogs so much before I want something fresh. It might not need to be entirely healthy, but FRESH is so nice on those warm summer nights.

Anonymous said...

I'd be happy with anything reasonably healthy, as 81 gamer who runs to the games right from work, it really gets old eating crap night after night!

An Briosca Mor said...

If I was the CenterPlate person in charge of putting together the concessions mix at Nationals Park, here's what I'd do: Go to the Verizon Center and take a walk through the neighborhood. You've got to figure that the same type of restaurants and bars that have sprouted up around the Verizon Center will fill in the Ballpark District once it's developed. Make note of the menu items and drink choices available at these places, and strive to get the same or similar items in the concession stands at Nationals Park. As the ballpark concessionaire, you want fans to come into the park to eat and drink prior to games, rather than filling up the surrounding restaurants, so have the same kind and quality of food and drink available inside the park and they will. The restaurants and bars in the neighborhood can absorb the overflow and the after-the-game patrons.

Let Teddy Win the presidents race said...

- Vietnamese sandwiches like those served at Song Que.

- Attmans Deli (but please do us all a favor and slice some meat ahead of time... we can live with it)

- A real hoagie like those from The Italian Store (not another Subway or Quiznos)

- Five Guys of course

- Slices or mini/individual pies from Z Pizza (not the worlds best but as chains go would be a huge improvement)

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see a Matchbox presence at the Ballpark... those mini-burgers are awesome! Incidentally, Matchbox are opening a new place on Barracks Row, next to Jordans8, in Spring '08.

Keep up the good work, SBF!

Singing-Lisa said...

Please, please ask them to provide more healthy fare! Sandwiches with whole-grain bread, grilled meats and fresh vegetables? Salads? Something like Chipotle or Baja Fresh? See you at the ballpark, and thanks SBF!

6th and D said...

1) Ditto on Starbucks.

2) 11th and Pennsylvania Avenue SE has a long time Italian Deli called Mangialardo's. It's been around since J. Edgar Hoover won the daily-double at Laurel. They serve an Italian Sub on a hard Italian roll and call it the G-Man Special. It is FANTASTIC.

3) ditto on 5 guys, Ben's, and Capitol Q.

4) For those that have been to China Town, there is a place on the corner of 6th and H NW, where the chef makes Noodles by hand in the front window. I don't know the name we call it the Noodle Joint. FANTASTIC.

6th and D said...

I forgot to mention Cuban Sandwiches - just like at Fenway.

Anonymous said...

Can you find out if they plan on serving Coke or Pepsi? Please let it be Coke...

Dave said...

Vegetarian options, please. As a veggie, eating at RFK was a chore. There was either lousy Papa John's pizza, greasy Boardwalk Fries, or just one rather lame vegetable wrap.

Someone just mentioned Chipotle or Baja Fresh. That's the ticket! And salad-type offerings.

I hope Centerplate doesn't assume everybody wants to eat some variant of the hot dog. If they offer good, healthy vegetarian food they'll get my money. If not, they won't.

Anonymous said...

Folks are forgetting about the ice cream of our youth. How about Giffords? They have shops in Bethesda and DC. (http://www.giffords.com) But something other than the soft serve and dipping dots would be nice even tho I love the fact that the dots don't melt as fast! Went to school in Fred'burg so would appreciate the Carl's too!

Fruit...that would be a nice, cold treat on a hot afternoon. Yummy watermelon.

Vendors in the stands: Would love to have more variety there. I think I see the hot dog guy only 1x per game. Maybe offer prewrapped sandwiches/wraps. We get tons of beer guys but it seems when the kiddo wants soda, lemonade, or gatorade, they are never around. A pet peeve of mine...luke warm beverages. I want a COLD drink. Especially beer.

And speaking of kiddos...a kids meal of some type for the smaller kids would be appreciated. Make it a flat $10 rate with some options for an entree, side dish, drink and dessert. Some ideas for entrees: PB&J sandwich, hotdog, slice of pizza, grilled cheese sandwich, fish sticks, chicken nuggets. Side dishes: chips, fruit cup, salad, fries. Drinks: Juice boxes/bags, can of soda, milk box, small bottle of water. Dessert: cookie, small candy bar. Keep all portions small. Think 2-8 yr olds. Make this a guest benefit and NOT a profit center. You want to encourage a family to come but if you break the bank, it won't be an every weekend thing.

Love the idea of Baja Fresh!

What about local seafood? Phillips? Or Capt Pells, or some other local favorite.

Anonymous said...

I think Centerplate runs the concessions at AT&T Park San Francisco and Dodger Stadium. I was able to catch games at both places and must say that they each had an item I fell in LOVE with!!! Garlic Fries. MMMMMM. Don't know if it would be a copycat thing to bring a west coast treat to the district. Even if it it, I say 'so what'. Let's consider garlic fries!! Thanks....

315/A FSTH said...

With the summer weather here in DC and the HUGE profit margins on soda, I'd like to see an "all you can drink" soda option on the menu. Also, what happened to Hard Time Cafe?

dcbatgirl said...

I want to join those who are asking for at least a few healthy options.

How about salads? High Noon makes a great take out salad; Cosi too. Either of these organizations could probably prepare and sell a subset of the salads on their regular menus.

And what about iced tea? Both sweetened and unsweetened.

Anonymous said...

So what type of food and avg price will they have for the first game?

Anonymous said...

Anyone know if its COKE OR PEPSI, also i would love to see a starbucks and helmets as the cups for ice cream, i also hope that they bring more local food in like maybe a GREEN TURTLE out in the plaza.