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FSM Responds to ESPN’s Report on Food Safety

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Food Service Matters, Industry Leading Sports & Entertainment Hospitality Consultant Firm, Responds to ESPN’s Outside the Lines Story on Sports Food Safety

Atlanta, Georgia – January 9, 2019 – The recent release of ESPN’s Outside the Lines food-safety inspection report on the nation’s 111 North American pro-sports venues has stirred up the food service industry and raised red flags, putting a roster of teams, leagues and food service providers on the offensive regarding the health and safety of the food being served in their respective venues.

Food Service Matters (FSM), advisors and advocates for the ownership groups of some of the biggest names in sports responded to the December 13th report in which more than 16,000 food-safety inspections from 2016 and 2017 were collected and reviewed from the health departments that monitor the referenced sports facilities.

Mike Plutino, Food Service Matters’ Founder and CEO agrees that food safety and sanitation is of the utmost importance when serving millions of fans across the country, however takes issue with the research metrics and reporting stating, “Food safety is paramount to keeping fans safe throughout our industry. ESPN’s broad brush portrayal of an industry in crisis was incomplete at best and negligent at its worst”.  He went on to add, “While we believe every venue actively focuses on food safety, ESPN failed to provide the necessary context and a level playing field to present an accurate picture of each venue’s food safety performance.”

While the ESPN article speaks to the approach of their rankings, the findings are misleading and inaccurate for a variety of reasons that include inconsistency in health department codes from city to city and state to state. Health codes and violations, and how they are documented, differ throughout the country, making it virtually impossible to use as a comparable performance benchmark. Another variable skewing the article’s reporting is the inconsistency in health inspections which holds little to no guidelines around the timing of inspections (whether a building is open or closed, an event day or non-event, or if the venue is even in season or off season).

Jim Dalton, Food Service Matters Chief Operations Officer states, “I have seen instances where a health department might send one inspector to a building and another will send a team of two to three for an inspection, it is a completely inconsistent process and varies from department to city to state”.

Dalton also notes many of the larger food service providers have independent companies evaluating the food safety and sanitation of the venues they are operating so they have an independent and consistent review of the properties they operate.

Plutino adds, “With the importance that hospitality plays in the overall fan experience, food safety and sanitation should be something that each league incorporates into their operating plan going forward to ensure they’re holding venues to their individual leagues’ code of conduct and brand promise as it relates to the fan experience.”

About Food Service Matters

Food Service Matters (FSM) is a solutions-based food, beverage, and hospitality consulting group specializing in sports and entertainment food service. FSM is focused on providing facility and team ownership groups with an objective, independent evaluation of their food and beverage operation. FSM clients include Rose Bowl Stadium, Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies, Atlanta Hawks, Miami Dolphins, Tennessee Titans, and Speedway Motorsports, Inc. 

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For more information, contact:

Patti Green pattigreen@endeavor-mktg.com  312.550.7341

FSM Offers Up Solutions to Iconic Venues Hosting Major Events

Why Lines Got Long At Winter Classic

Concessionaire Levy says it confronted ‘unique challenges’ at outdoor NHL game

by Tim Newcomb and Don Muret

January 3, 2019

at Notre Dame Stadium on January 1, 2019 in South Bend, Indiana.

It was all good in the stands for the New Year’s Day game at Notre Dame Stadium, but things didn’t go as smoothly on the concourses, according to fans on Twitter. (Getty Images)

Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Ind., welcomed more than 76,000 for the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic outdoor regular-season game Jan. 1, but fans took to social media to call out the venue for long food and beverage lines and stands that ran out of food and beer.

Comments on Twitter told stories of fans missing the entire second period waiting in line, and fans complained about the venue running out of beer early and stands running out of food in the first of the two intermissions. “Forty people deep for a pretzel?” one commenter on Twitter wrote. “They don’t have trouble serving food here for football games.”

Levy, the stadium’s food and beverage provider for all events, had said before the game it planned plenty of hot chocolate and comfort-food items to keep the crowd warm and was already versed in selling beer inside the stadium at concerts, even though it doesn’t sell beer there for Notre Dame football games. It responded after the game that hosting a Winter Classic for the first time at the stadium “presented some unique challenges and attracted a different range of fans.”

Levy said some confusion may have come from converting stands that normally sell food to selling only beer, making it appear those stands were out of food.

Also, per NHL regulations, no beer was sold after the second period. “Stands were restocked as beer was sold,” a Levy spokesperson said. “Some concession stands did run out of an item or two, but none were without food options.”

Levy and Notre Dame Stadium may have also run into a different issue: The timing of food and beverage sales for a hockey game differ greatly from those at a football game. When as many as 80,000 fans fill the stands to watch the Fighting Irish play football, those three-plus-hour games come with multiple breaks in the action, two quarter breaks and a halftime. The meandering nature of a football game leads to plenty of opportunity to hit concession stands. Hockey fans generally stay seated for the action and hit the concourses during one of the game’s two intermissions.

“There are unique challenges when iconic venues host high-profile one-off events as the fan behavior and spending patterns can differ greatly from their existing fan base where they often have detailed data and analysis based on a venue’s historical performance,” said Mike Plutino, founder and CEO of consultancy Food Service Matters.

Plutino says that the ability to “flex” an operation to accommodate capacity and increased consumption is the key to hosting unique events. “We would recommend ensuring that more locations can serve a dual purpose — both food and beverage — as well as adding or enhancing any existing vending programs to significantly increase the current point-of-sale rations while also ensuring that fixed and portable menus are limited in their offering and engineered for speed of service,” he said.

READ MORE

FSM Weighs In On Grab-and-Go with SBJ

Concessionaires have quickly warmed to the trend of grab-and-go markets and food stands at sports venues.

Grab-and-go concepts give fans fast, self-service access to food and drinks just like they would have at a co
nvenience store. They can take the shape of small markets or simple spaces with walk-up coolers and drink bins. Most have cashiers, yet require fewer of them than traditional concession st
ands. Some have gone the next step and incorporated self-service checkout technology.

“We’ve had a lot of success with them. There’s a lot more coming down the pipeline,” said David Lippman, regional vice president with concessionaire Legends.

Legends has added eight grab-and-go areas at Yankee Stadium over the past two years, expanded their use at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, and installed them at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum as the stadium goes through a $300 million renovation.

Jaime Faulkner, CEO of E15 (Levy Restaurants’ analytics arm), said the concept has been successful because it speeds up customer service. Levy has incorporated grab-and-go options at multiple sports facilities. It added four additional locations at Ford Field this season after seeing the popularity of the concept following the Lions stadium’s $100 million renovation in 2017. That included adding a second “Kroger Cooler” spot tied to a sponsorship with the grocery store chain. Three beer stands were replaced by grab-and-go areas, with two offering beer, soda and water, and another offering popcorn, pretzels and hot dogs.

“We have consistently observed transactions taking one to two minutes or less during peak periods. A typical concession stand during halftime at many venues can be anywhere from 5 to 12 minutes,” said Mike Plutino, CEO of consulting firm Food Service Mattersof new grab-and-go stands at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. The consulting firm also does work for the Rose Bowl, Chase Center in San Francisco and other venues.READ MORE

FSM Leads Rose Bowl to Dynamic New F&B Partnership

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Best Beverage Catering (BBC) and Levy Partnership to Bring Industry-Leading Hospitality to Rose Bowl Stadium, Brookside Golf Course & Clubhouse, and Arroyo Seco

PASADENA, Calif. (July 9, 2018) – The Rose Bowl Stadium has selected Best Beverage Catering (BBC) and Levy as its hospitality partners for the legendary stadium campus, including the Rose Bowl Stadium’s general concessions, Brookside Golf Course and Clubhouse, and the Arroyo Seco. The partnership brings together Best Beverage Catering, the concessionaire behind festivals and events including Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Stagecoach Festival and Arroyo Seco Weekend, and Levy, acclaimed restaurateurs and leaders of sports and entertainment dining, to craft an innovative food and beverage experience for the entire campus that leverages their collective expertise in gameday dining, events and cutting-edge hospitality.READ MORE