The Flogging Will Continue ... Part 2

Kyra DeBlaker-Gebhard

Wasn't it just spring? Didn't we just have a bright, new season ahead of us? Weren't the concessionaires nice?

I try to be positive, despite the climbing temperatures, the growing belly and the team's win-loss record, but I can't help but wonder where our happy-to-serve-you concessionaires went. You know ... the ones who spent weeks learning how to love their job and believing the customer is always right? And while there is no one more sympathetic than a pregnant woman on a very hot day, I don't understand why the people working the concession stands have gone from happy to belligerent in a matter of months. Is it really so hard to be nice to a person who politely asks for a hot dog and soda? Yeah, it's hot working the grill. Yeah, the Nats are terribly inconsistent. Yeah, the pay probably does stink. But why do you have to be so mean?

By Kyra DeBlaker-Gebhard  |  June 30, 2008; 11:37 AM ET  | Category:  Kyra DeBlaker-Gebhard , Stadium Staff
Previous: The Flogging Will Continue Until the Losing Stops | Next: The Other Nationals are Pretty Great


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You know that we are talking about Washington DC, right? Did you notice how much Gaylord had to spend in order to get a minimally competent workforce at National Harbor? How is that working out? Now I know that there are some shining stars out there in Nationals Park concession land, but unless you move the park to someplace where service workers might actually give a damn I am afraid that this is what we are stuck with.

Seriously, what are the Lerner's going to do? Fire every underperformer? It's not like there is a queue of people waiting in line to sell hot dogs, pizza and beer for $7 per hour. Face it, this is not Wegman's which can afford to be selective in its hiring.

Posted by: The View from 222 | June 30, 2008 1:10 PM

I went Saturday night. Despite the fact that the Nats went out of their way to warn everybody to plan for large crowds - they themselves were woefully unprepared. Obscenely long lines again.
Things that I or the lady sitting next to me discovered they were out of at various stands: Beer, ice cream, sauer kraut.

That was just from two people. I fear the incompetence is beyond hope and beyond repair.

Posted by: JMAC | June 30, 2008 1:34 PM

Fire Clint!

Posted by: I blame Clint | June 30, 2008 2:12 PM

I was also at Saturday night's game (my first trip ever to Nats park), and was completely underwhealmed by the concessionares. They are woefully inefficient--the beer tap went to foam so the cashier stood there and stared at an open tap for 5 minutes until the beer started flowing again, while a line of 20 or so customers waited to buy something other than beer!!!

Also, what's the deal with closing up the concession stands so early? I know there was the big storm, but they were supposed to show a movie after the game, and all of those people who wanted to watch the movie (or stay through the rain delay) would probably have bought some food and beverage. I can understand reducing the number of open stands, but don't shut down the park in the 7th inning!

Posted by: Ilovetheo's | June 30, 2008 3:33 PM

I am sure it is diffciult to go from 18k fans a game to 40k overnight and that is what they had to deal with. The neighborhood that the stadium sits in does not help things either, that is the workforce they are forced to work with. I, myself, have found very efficient ways to get what I want and think the portions and quality are always pleasing. Can't wait for this team to start winning because I think it takes away from the experience.

Posted by: natsfan911 | June 30, 2008 8:25 PM

I work in D.C., and unfortunately, the attitude you encounter at the stadium's concession stands is pretty consistent with what you find at many D.C. establishments. My experience at the stadium has been hit and miss. Some of the workers are fantastic while others act like they are doing you a favor. It was the same at RFK, but we all thought things would be better at the new stadium. Verizon Center has some surly incompetent concession help, too. Then there was the time the police were called after a waiter threatened to kill the manager at one of chain restaurants I was eating at in Chinatown. My last two outings to the stadium had convinced me that things had improved, but it sounds like there is still room for improvement.

Posted by: El Rey | July 1, 2008 9:02 AM

I really dont need a smile and a "Have a nice day" but I would like a hot hot dog, a cold beer, in stock, and served quickly. To me - the fact that that cant be done is more a relection of management - which ought to draw from a wider labor pool. Yes - going from 18K to 40K fans is a challenge - but when the Nationals themselves alert the fans that there will be big crowds - how can the restaurants not know to stock up on things? Its a real head scratcher.

Posted by: JMAC | July 1, 2008 11:58 AM

I was there Saturday night - and I was able to get anything I wanted with no wait on the 200 level concourse. How about you folks with the problems identify where they are - and if you're talking about the left field 100 seating concession area - then you're asking for trouble and deserve what you get. Walk a little ways, go up a level. It beats standing in line....

...and FWIW, I am always reminded to have a good day by mu ushers and by my concession workers.

Posted by: What park do you go to? | July 1, 2008 2:42 PM

100 level by the 1st base gate. Nice to know the 200 level isnt as bad.

Posted by: JMAC | July 1, 2008 3:23 PM

Most of the fans sit low, so they all go to the 100 level concourse. Look at the # of fans that go to the 200 level concourse and you'll see it is significantly less. The 300 level is even less than that.

A look from the Red Loft'll prove my point....

Now, you can still wait in a line if you want 5 Guys in the 4th, but pick your spots and you'll be okay.

Posted by: And the 300 level is even better | July 1, 2008 4:54 PM

The 200 level Concessions stayed open. When the movie was supposed to be shown (because of the rain delay, it wasn't), people were supposed to move to 3rd base side (like they do for the fireworks). Limited concessions would be open on that side for the movie.

The new stadium here sometimes reminds me of when Camden Opened. All of a sudden the fans lost their voice and were always out shouted by the competition. I used to have a Sunday plan with the O's. People would look at us weird if we cheered.

Now the same is happening at NATS PARK! Come on People shout Lets Go NATS! Lets go Nation als. Geez, where are your voices?

NOW A NATS FAN. I cheer who's at bat and I even try to encourage the pitcher. We need to support these guys! Win or Lose!

Posted by: CALSGR8 | July 1, 2008 11:49 PM

Fortunately, the 200 level has been a great area for shorter lines it seems. Never more than a few minutes to get what I want when I want it. I agree that some of the employees are pretty awful but take their name down and actually make a formal complaint about them. Go to Cantina Marina as their staff is amazing and I truthfully think they serve the best fries in the ballpark!

Posted by: Happy Season Ticket Holder 1 | July 2, 2008 3:24 PM

The concession stand in question is on the third base side, 300-level. While most nights we skip over that stand because it tends to be over crowded (it's at the top of the escaltor/ramp and is a first stop for many), we stopped there because I was exhausted from the walk to the park and really didn't want to walk further along the concession line toward home plate.

We could all argue both sides--what do you want, it's DC or how dare anyone be rude--but I think about first impressions. What if that was someone's sole experience at the park? Don't they deserve something more than a woman yelling behind the counter at co-workers because she is having a bad day and then being rude to customers as well? Even on my worst day, I manage to at least recognize that it's not right.

Maybe the issue is concession management.

Posted by: Kyra | July 2, 2008 9:58 PM

Some parks staff their concessions with volunteers from local nonprofit organizations who earn money for their groups rather than for themselves. It seems to work well in Seattle at Safeco Field--I wonder if it would work here.

Posted by: Sec419E | July 3, 2008 10:29 AM

Favorite moment at Nat's Park so far:

Ordering cajun fries at the Five Guys just as the gentleman in front me did. After sighing at the man in front of me for having the audacity to get cajun fries, the "fry guy" looked at me and said "You gotta be f***ing with me." He then proceeded to roll his eyes and and shake the cajun seasoning into the bag with the fries. I feel so guilty for making his job that much harder.

Posted by: RH | July 3, 2008 6:00 PM

Well, I think that answers the question. The lines are longer, and people are more stressed at the first stops.

And shhh about Cantina Marina! Don't give away our secret! (Like anyone reads this thing except bloghards...)

Posted by: The First Stop | July 4, 2008 11:22 AM

Hi-- I'm a grad student at U of Maryland and my market research class is doing a project on Nations fan conversion and season ticket options. Would you mind checking out our survey? It would be a big help- we're hoping to have all of the inputs by Wednesday night.


survey link--

Posted by: MBA | July 6, 2008 7:48 PM

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