The Coastal Star

Food: FAU tries kicking food up a notch at new football stadium

 

Florida Atlantic University and its food concession company say
they plan to offer typical stadium fare, plus a few surprises — like
skewered chicken — when the new football stadium opens Oct. 15. Photo provided


 

By Deborah S. Hartz-Seeley

 

When hungry spectators at the new Florida Atlantic University football stadium take a break from the Owls’ action, they’ll find typical stadium fare with a few surprises.

So says Greg Moran, the resident district manager for Chartwells, responsible for food service on the FAU campus including the stadium.

And Kellie Hensley, director of suites and concessions for the FAU Athletic Department, says: “We’ll be serving good food with a college theme that we take up a notch.”

But getting the food ready for fans attending the first game Oct. 15 hasn’t been easy. Moran has visited the stadium construction site at least twice a week for the past five months. He and his staff of 18 managers and 280 full-time associates also have been busy gathering, preparing and sampling recipes for stadium fare since May. 

Because all the food will be prepared in a kitchen outside the stadium, Moran has special considerations when it comes to the menu.

“We have to be sure the food can be held for an extended period of time and that it tastes good whether it was cooked five or 30 minutes before it is served,” he says.

As game day approaches, his staff will grow by 150 to 200 employees who will work as bartenders, kitchen staff, servers and dishwashers at the stadium. There will be only about two weeks between the end of construction and the first game, during which Moran will have to expedite staff training. 

Although the current list of stadium fare is heavy on traditional favorites, Moran hopes to add more Floribbean favorites.

“Local cuisine is one of the frontiers that haven’t been fully engulfed yet,” Moran says.

Most hungry game-goers will find themselves on the stadium’s third floor, where they can visit 11 concession stands. These include Chick-fil-A, which will offer a limited menu including its signature chicken sandwiches and brownies. 

The Chick-n-Grill will serve burritos, grilled chicken sandwiches, french fries, funnel cakes, pretzels and nachos. PCI Professional Concessions will provide the usual sausage, hamburgers, nachos, pretzels and arepas. 

Pita Hut will add the distinctive flavors of pita sandwiches and gyros as well as Dippin’ Dots and Haagen-Daz ice cream. And Tomasso’s, a local Boca Raton restaurant, will offer pizza slices, meatballs and meatball sandwiches.

Don’t want to leave your seat? Hawkers will deliver personal pizzas in boxes, lemon ices, hot dogs and Chick-fil-A chicken sandwiches.

On the second floor of the towering stadium you’ll find the Priority Deck. That’s a 16,000-square-foot outdoor covered dining space primarily serving the people in more than 4,000 outdoor club seats located on the west side of the lower level. 

In the center of the priority dining area is a tiki bar stocked with draft beers, wines and mixed drinks. 

Flat-screen televisions make it possible to follow the action on the field. And mobile food stations will offer items such as beef brisket sandwiches, pretzels, hot dogs and hamburgers as well as chicken and pita sandwiches.

For something a little different, there also will be a sushi and lo mein station. Sweet endings include Dippin’ Dots and ice cream novelties.

On the third floor, the 8,000-square-foot Premier Club Lounge will offer 1,500 outdoor club seat holders a place to relax and get some chow. The food is included in the price of their tickets.

Here, too, there will be television sets to watch while you eat, or you can take your food back to your seat. 

Starting an hour before kickoff, the Premier Club Lounge will offer a carving stations serving an item such as strip loin of beef or grilled red chili turkey with jalapeño cilantro salsa and avocado cream. 

Around halftime, the food service will shift to action stations that might include a sausage bar featuring apple-and-gouda-flavored links and spicy Italian as well as chipotle cheddar sausage. 

Another game might offer a mac-and-cheese bar where you add your own toppings such as caramelized onions, chorizo, bacon bits or crushed potato chips. 

Or, you might find mini Cuban sandwiches and mushroom quesadillas on the menu. A salad station might feature a cheese display plus a salad offering such as a Caesar or tossed garden salad.

At halftime there may also be snacks such as flavored popcorns, candy cotton, trail mix and pretzels. 

“These are mini fillers that people can take back to their seats,” Moran says.

During the final quarter, desserts such as ice cream bars or a bananas foster station will be available for premier level fans.  

In the suites on the floors above, ticket holders can choose from a variety of food packages that must be ordered at least three days in advance, either by phone or online.

Packages range from the high-end Touch Down Package to the more budget-friendly Hoot Package.

The Touch Down includes bruschetta, shrimp cocktail, Italian chopped salad, ciabatta sandwiches, beef strip loin and redskin potato salad with chocolate-dipped strawberries for dessert. 

The Hoot Package provides roasted garlic and French onion dips for potato chips, a hot dog bar with a selection of toppings, fried chicken tenders, pasta salad, BLT salad and cookies and seasonal fresh fruit for dessert.

For those whose pockets are as empty as their stomachs, ATMs will be available throughout the stadium and food outlets will accept all major credit cards.            

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