Whitecaps focus on wowing fans at concession stands
Patrick Center February 12, 2013 | WGVU
“What is that, deep fried risotto here and that’s a Pig swims to Cuba sandwich which is a mixture of looks like some ham, pickles, some mustard. It looks delicious, though.
The West Michigan Whitecaps, Mickey Graham is my maitre d’. At Wyoming’s Gordon Food Service headquarters, clients are rolling out new food items that could potentially end up on the minor league ballpark’s menu like the Drunken Weiner.
“We’ve got a quarter pound hotdog, we beer batter it, deep fry it, put it in a nice big bun, liquidy cheese and a couple strips of bacon,” as described by Brent Smith who works with Grand Rapids-based Supreme Great Lakes.
“Whitecaps do things different than any other minor league baseball in the country,” explained Kevin Vander Meer with Michaels and Associates, a Grand Rapids food broker.
I asked if there’s a little competition here?
“It is a competition every year. Who’s going to come up with what and the wildest and craziest thing we’re going to see this year? We developed the Fifth Third Burger with them a few years back and it’s still a very popular item”
Vander Meer rattles of a few of his new creations.
“Well, we’ve got a giant eight once meatball here that is a precooked meatball. It’s that wow factor. It’s a baseball sized meatball. We have an Italian sausage wrapped in bacon that we’ve sautéed on a flat top grill. Deep fried avocados. When we were out east we went to a restaurant and they were doing deep fried avocado and we were like, what a unique item.”
Lew Chamberlin is Managing Partner and Chief Executive Officer for West Michigan Whitecaps Baseball. He calls this experience food entrepreneurism. The organization will give anything a try.
I ask him if there’s a point made or if there’s any pressure to have something on the menu that becomes nationally acclaimed?
“You know, that sort of happened, that was just sort of a side benefit of the whole Fifth Third Burger creation and I don’t think we’re necessarily looking for national exposure. It’s great when you get it”
Brett Bakita is sports radio program director at WBBL. He’s doing some taste testing.
“Any type of that stuff that gives you notoriety is a big deal. That’s why you see even in what we cover in sports radio stories that pop up about such-and-such got married at a game or whatever. Everyone’s looking for that angle from the social media aspect which is so powerful with YouTube and everything. So, for them they caught fame. It was a nice moment that they had with the Fifth Third Burger and now you always try to recreate that if you can.”
With six vendors serving up nearly 100 new items there’s a good chance something will amaze the masses and mass media.
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