New Ballpark, New Eats
The Washington Nationals are finished defending the performance of Aramark, the food service giant that has provided mediocre food and desultory service at RFK Stadium since baseball returned to the District. The team announced today that at its new stadium, all food service will be provided by a new concessionaire, Centerplate, a South Carolina company that holds the contracts for six Major League Baseball stadiums and ten National Football League teams.
The very good news for Washington fans is that Centerplate is the company behind the excellent selection and service at the San Francisco Giants' newish ballpark, where the garlic fries, 40-clove garlic chicken sandwiches from the Stinking Rose restaurants, and Ghirardelli hot fudge sundaes are generally acclaimed as among the best offerings in pro sports. Centerplate is also the company behind the impressive upgrade in food at old Yankee Stadium--further evidence of how bogus were Aramark's constant whines about how hard it is to serve decent food in antiquated RFK.
Our man Steinberg over at the Sports Bog has visited this terrain already and reports that Centerplate has made the Giants park primo for vegetarians too, for whatever that's worth.
But there's room for some caution and skepticism too, because Centerplate also counts among its clients the Washington Redskins and--get ready--the D.C. Convention Center, which is renowned for its mediocre and ridiculously priced offerings.
So it's not quite clear what we'll see at the new stadium in the way of concessions. The Nationals and Centerplate promise to team up with local restaurants to make the food interesting and Washington-centric. Actually, Aramark made some progress on that front after its disastrous first season, and the Red, Hot and Blue barbecue stand at RFK is a highlight that would stand up well against any park in the league. But the Burrito Brothers stand didn't last very long and when Foggy Bottom beer went out of business, that was the end of the local brews at the ballpark.
So which Centerplate will we see down on the Anacostia waterfront? The splendor of the Giants or the misery of the D.C. convention center? Is this a matter of different kinds of contracts in different cities? Or is it a workforce issue, as some have argued about Aramark's failure at RFK? Aramark never seemed to read the Washington market well, figuring it for way downscale from Baltimore, when all evidence points in the opposite direction.
At the very least, the new company won't have any facilities excuses, as the new park is designed with big, modern kitchens and food service areas. Maybe the new guys can finally swing a deal with Ben's Chili Bowl.
What else would you like to see in the way of comestibles at the new stadium?
By Marc Fisher |
September 4, 2007; 2:31 PM ET
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