Saturday, Delaware North will replace Aramark as the concession vendor at TDECU Stadium. The privately-held company has a long history in sports stadiums, airports, and entertainment complexes.
This will be their first time operating food and beverage in a major college football stadium. But Delaware North runs food services at Globe Life Park (Texas Rangers), Met Life Stadium (Jets and NY Giants), Comerica Park (Detroit Tigers), Lambeau Field (Packers), Target Field (Minnesota Twins), the Boston Garden (Celtics, Bruins), and dozens of others.
Last month, the company began providing training table meals for student-athletes and will also run concessions at Fertitta Center, Cougar Softball Stadium, and Schroeder Park. They will also provide catering for the premium areas at TDECU and Fertitta.
GoCoogs spoke with Delaware North district manager Kenneth Gaber to get a sense of what to expect Saturday. Gaber has been working out of TDECU Stadium and is leading the rollout at UH athletics facilities.
“We took over (the UH contract) on August 2nd. So we’ve been fast-moving over the past 35 days to get ready for this football game on Saturday,” Gaber said. “We’ve also been running the concessions at Fertitta Center (volleyball, PBR) as well as the track facility for soccer games.”
Gaber emphasized that the company is dedicated to improving customer satisfaction in all UH stadiums.
“We’ve been putting plans together to address this,” he said. “We’re bringing Chick Fil A back. We have Pink’s Pizza, who is going to be a great partner.” Gaber mentioned other local restaurants like Dolce Vita will be partners as well.
“The ‘wow’ item we’re looking at right now is called the First Down Dog,” Gaber says. “It’s a two-foot-long hot dog with chili and cheese on it. It’s enough to feed a family.”
“And the First Down Nacho which is a two-foot-long nacho plate.” He says TDECU will add a brisket burger as well.
“Whether the game’s at TDECU or at Fertitta, we want to make sure we have a wide variety (of food) and it’s not just the basics.”
Delaware North is increasing point-of-sale stations by 10% over what Aramark had in the stadium. The company will utilize hourly associates and non-profit groups to staff concession stands.
Food delivery to seats is “one of the projects we’ve been working on” Gaber tells me and will be available in the club section (to start). The company will partner with sEATz and utilize the sEATz mobile app for delivery. He expects all deliveries to be made within 8 minutes.
Domestic Prices Stay The Same
For the 2020 season, all domestic beer pricing is staying the same, Gaber says. “For our premium offerings, we are increasing it, I think, 25 cents. We’re offering a lot of local beers, Love Street, Hopadillo, we’re adding Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer, 8th Wonder.” The other domestic varieties will be available. Delaware North is increasing the pouring stations as well.
The company has also taken over training table meals for all UH teams. It’s a new concept for Gaber and the company.
“That’s definitely quite an undertaking, feeding all the sports up to three times a day,” the district manager says. “We’re working with the nutritionists to make sure the menus are correct and accurate and what they want us to serve.”
After the PV game, Delaware North will have almost as long to prepare for game two as they had for the opener. The second home game for the Coogs is October 12 vs Cincinnati.
But with all of these areas to service, the challenge for Delaware North is instituting all of this in such a short period of time. Aramark had decades of experience on campus and could never figure it out. How will Delaware North enter the market and be able to make it work?
“Every time you open (food service in a) building there’s a lot of little challenges,” Gaber said. “We rely on training and having the proper amount of staff. We’ve worked to get our associates on board to be able to service the fans.
“We’re definitely in a good place.”
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