Designing the catering infrastructure of a stadium is vital to profitability. Key to success is to exploit all price points, from concession-served fast food to ‘all you can eat’ vouchers, to VIP fine dining. Researching existing fans and potential local and corporate audiences, will reveal the required mix of fast food for general admission spectators, mid-range restaurants and bars and high-end corporate box and restaurant covers. Premium prices can be charged for pitch views and these are a draw on non-matchdays too. Spaces can be reconfigured for conference/lounge/restaurant use. Owners often hire staff with experience from the restaurant and hotel sector to manage this aspect of the business.
An experienced food and beverage consultant will design and locate kitchens and concessions so that they operate at maximum efficiency and speed during the short retail time frames of the typical large sport venue. Some stadiums site smaller kitchens near to the outlets, others centralize the kitchen and provide rapid transport – lifts and wheeled carts – to move food to the outlets for final preparation and serving.
Kitchen fit-out experts provide the specialised equipment – such as a cook-chill system – necessary to serve restaurant quality food in compressed time frames to thousands of covers.
Using carts provides flexibility to meet rapidly changing consumer preferences in food and beverage. Building a stadium with wide concourses which contain hook-ups to power, water and the computer network support this strategy.
Beer and soft drinks sales contribute to the bottom line and successful operators use fast pour systems and queue-busting portable units to maximise sales during the short selling periods available. Managers can use point of sale software to analyse sales and move portable units to areas that are providing most demand. All of this equipment needs storage space and will need to be maintained.
Owners need to consider the options of managing the food and beverage service in-house and engaging food and beverage operators in long-term contracts, which can guarantee consistent revenue streams – often used as part of stadium construction funding.
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