Centerplate brings customization to the masses

Staff Writer
Centerplate brings customization to the masses

Centerplate — a non-commercial foodservice company specializing in sports, convention and entertainment venues — has introduced several new better-for-you initiatives.

Snacksmart is a line of more healthful options, such as certified gluten-free raw vanilla maple almonds, and Popcorners — a low-calorie butter-flavored popcorn snack that the company, which provides food and beverage services to more than 250 locations across the country, says “offers a chip-like experience.”

Kids’ Snacksmart options include Funky Monkey fruit chips and low-calorie potato chips.

During the recent Super Bowl at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Centerplate teamed up with Farm Aid to use local, organic ingredients for pork, beef and vegetarian chili. For each serving sold, $2 went to Farm Aid.

Nation’s Restaurant News recently spoke with chief marketing officer Bob Pascal about Centerplate’s new initiatives.

What research has Centerplate done regarding guest preferences?

Over the past two years, we’ve done more than 5,000 deep-dive surveys to find out what are the drivers of a great experience, and it’s allowed us to better position our offerings and take a leadership position in trends, and then creating fun, interesting programs against those.

What did the company learn?

One of the most overarching things we learned is that often the food and beverage experience is somewhat disconnected from the entertainment experience. It’s almost like, ‘Time out from the game or concert experience, I’m going to wait in line for my food, and then we’re back in the action.’

So one of our overarching trends is creating that connection with the food and beverage with the experience itself.

The other interesting thing is that we’re certainly seeing that people are much more interested and aware of what they’re eating, whether it’s calories or where their food’s from. But when they’re eating with us, it’s mostly an award.

That might bring us to the chili at the Super Bowl. What we’re celebrating is Hoosier hospitality, and we wanted to do that same thing through our menus.

When you look at chili, it’s a classic tailgate food, nationally. How do we translate that into Indiana? And what we did was think, ‘OK, Midwest, farming culture, how do we tap into that in a meaningful way?’ And that’s where we found Farm Aid. That allowed us to tap into Indiana farmers that could fit into our needs in terms of quality and quantity. We were able to infuse the game with a celebration of Indiana and its farms.