Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Maybe The Third Time Will Be The Charm

From Aramark to Centerplate to now Levy Restaurants, Our Washington Nationals officially announced today what was a few months ago leaked. Following Aramark at RFK Stadium, Centerplate is now out as the Concessionaire at Nationals Park--replaced by Chicago Based Levy Restaurants. Levy is also the food service provider for Verizon Center in downtown Washington, DC--The Home Of The Washington Capitals and The Washington Wizards Professional Teams.

All sides had been mighty quiet on the latest changeover until today. Even Centerplate has been very silent. (and let me tell you--I have asked).

Sohna and I ate Dinner twice during this current Hockey Season in The Acela Club Restaurant at Verizon Center. We thought it was pretty good. Although we had little knowledge at the time that Levy was bringing their services over to South Capitol Street for 2009.

Let's hope The Third Time Will Be The Charm.

More coming soon.

In the meantime, here is the complete team press release:


Levy to Provide Food Experience for Nationals Fans Beginning 2009 Season

[Washington D.C.] – February 17, 2009 – The Washington Nationals announced today a partnership with Levy Restaurants, the leader in premium sports and entertainment dining, for food and beverage operations at Nationals Park. Levy Restaurants will be introduced to fans during the team’s April 4 exhibition game at the ballpark.

Chicago-based Levy Restaurants is a James Beard and Ivy Award-winning restaurant company that transformed dining at major sporting and entertainment venues across the country, from Wrigley Field in Chicago to Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Levy will serve traditional ballpark fare and upscale menu items, featuring regional dishes and innovative versions of D.C.’s favorites throughout the concession stands, premium seating areas, 66 suites and 10 party suites, three exclusive clubs, portable carts and at the iconic Red Porch and Red Loft at Nationals Park. Levy will also provide catering for the hospitality areas, including the Family Picnic Area and Roof Top Party Deck, as well as for all non-baseball events at the ballpark.
“The people of Washington D.C. have embraced this ballpark and this team,” said Washington Nationals President Stan Kasten. “With a focus on our fans, we are excited to collaborate with Levy Restaurants, drawing upon their expertise, energy and passion to continually enhance the food and hospitality that are an integral part of the Nationals experience.” Kasten added, “They know how to make eating at a ballpark truly memorable and fun.”
Levy Restaurants is a familiar face to Major League Baseball fans, also providing food and hospitality at Wrigley Field (home of the Chicago Cubs); US Cellular Field (home of the Chicago White Sox); Dodger Stadium (home of the LA Dodgers); PNC Park (home of the Pittsburgh Pirates); and Chase Field (home of the Arizona Diamondbacks).

“We’re thrilled to team up with the Washington Nationals to provide exceptional food and hospitality to fans at the beautiful and cutting-edge Nationals Park,” said Andy Lansing, President and CEO of Levy Restaurants. “We have great respect for what the entire Nationals organization has accomplished in bringing this team to Washington D.C. and building this incredible ballpark, and we look forward to creating Levy signature dishes and a first-class dining experience for generations of Nationals fans.”
About Levy Restaurants

Levy Restaurants, founded in Chicago in 1978, is recognized as one of America’s fastest growing and most critically acclaimed restaurant companies, and is the leader in premium sports and entertainment dining concessions. Levy’s diverse portfolio includes award-winning restaurants such as James Beard-winning Spiaggia and Bistro 110 in Chicago, Fulton’s Crab House, Portobello and Wolfgang Puck Grand CafĂ© at Walt Disney World Resort, renowned sports venues like Lambeau Field in Green Bay, STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, and American Airlines Arena in Miami, and events including Super Bowls, World Series, Kentucky Derbies, All-Star Games and the Grammy Awards. For details, visit www.levyrestaurants.com.


Edward J. Cunningham said...

I strongly suspect the problem with the concessionaires is not the businesses who win the contract but the labor pool in the District of Columbia. Try as they might, I don't think the Nats can hire people who WANT this job at the prices they pay. You get the impression that many of the people serving you food see this as a dead-end job and don't want to be there. Am I off-base or am I on to something?

Sam R said...


I agree with your analysis. It is the labor pool. Admit it you've probably sometime in your life gotten a less than perfect product but the associated customer service made up for it. I'll never forget once at RFK I bought a sausage from Dominic's and asked the guy behind the grill if he could toast the bun on the grill. There was no line behind me but his words were "no!" the register girl said I'll do it and she walked over grabbed the bun and toasted it. She scowled at the grill man who then replied "I ain't grillin s#@t." I've never forgotten that. If the game weren't interesting I probably would have tracked down a supervisor. This past year for the most part I didn't have issues except for the slowness of the lines. However I will say from about the sixth inning on at the anacostia station grill the servers were very often talking loudly about being able and ready to leave early. No pride in job there, just the sense they couldn't wait to get the hell out of there. maybe in these tought economic times customer service will prove to be king. I can only hope.

Take Me Out To The Ballgame!


Anonymous said...

Levy operates some great restaurants and concessions in many cities, and others (such as the entire main concourse at Verizon Center) which are depressingly bad. But as bad as the food is on the Verizon center concourse, the service there doesn't sink to the lows set by Centerplate last year. Who knows what we'll get, but I'm glad to see attention being paid.

Unknown said...

I have to agree, from what I've been told, they canvas Southeast looking for people to work. That being said, if the Nats are paying a company to provide concessions, that company should find competent people to work, no matter what it takes. My biggest issues in 08' were items not being ready when the gates opened, which I think is more of a training issue than a staff issue. So, I'm hopeful the new vendor can find competent managers to properly instruct their staffs.

Anonymous said...


Aramark does the main concourse at VZ Center. Levy only does Suites and Club Level.

CALSGR8 said...

I just hope they keep the Chicken Fingers, Bens Chilli, Red Hot and Blue, Five Guys, and Giffords!

Oh, and no Pepsi, COKE!

ra said...

Anyone know what kind of vegetarian options might be offered by Levy? Hopefully they'll at least keep the basic veggie dogs & burgers. We were even lucky enough to score veggie chili cheese dogs last year at a couple of games. This was very hit-or-miss, as was the service.

There were some great, great people working behind the counters last year, but they only constitute maybe 25% of the total help.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Ed. The danger, however, is selective memory. In this context, we might just remember the bad experiences. There were some very good experiences last season, but I do remember some of the help being very un-professional and unpleasant.

As Lee Iacocca once said, if you're unhappy at work, fake it for a few hours.

Anonymous said...

I worked at Nationals last year as a part-time job and I completely agree with the comments on the labor pool. I worked at a beer portable P305 and LOVED it. However, we can only hope that they can forget about the awful % rate of having those in the neighborhood of SE working concessions in the stadium... I cannot even explain how greatful I am that Centerplate is out of there, they were terrible to work under ( I didn't recieve a paycheck until JULY!!!) Thank God, I made 75% of my money off of tips or I would have went to the labor board! All I have to say is I hope they bring back some of us portable girls, because we LOVED that job and those fans, especially you season ticketholders on the top floors!! =)

See you all in April!