SBJ/February 23 - 29, 2004/Facilities

Carb counters: Concessionaires’ changes cater to popular diet

Delaware North's Sportservice and Well Bread have created separate menu items at American Airlines Center in Dallas and FleetCenter in Boston to take advantage of the popularity of high protein/low carbohydrate diets.

Fellow concessionaire Centerplate plans to roll out a low-carb menu for the coming baseball season, said Doug Drewes, executive vice president. Seven of its 18 major league accounts are ballparks.

Aramark and Levy Restaurants officials have studied low-carb items but said they have yet to jump on the bandwagon.

Sportservice creations include a chicken Caesar wrap in low-carb tortilla.
Boston Concessions Group, which services Pro Player Stadium and the Office Depot Center, will not change anything at the venues it serves, said Sal Ferrulo, regional vice president. "When people come to a sporting event, they look forward to food the way it already is," he said.

Well Bread has been serving foods catering to the low-carb regimen at FleetCenter's Premium Club since the NBA and NHL seasons began last fall, said FleetCenter's Jim Delaney. The club is exclusive to suite and club seat patrons.

"Judging from the reaction, it could spread through the rest of the building as well," Delaney said. FleetCenter serves as a test site for new ideas since Delaware North owns the building, he added.

Low-carb options include smoked salmon "towers" with parmesan cheese strips, and the Klondike Carb Smart Bar, an ice cream novelty with only 5 net grams of carbohydrates, he said.

Earlier this month, Sportservice introduced what it describes on menu boards as "low carb friendly" alternatives at American Airlines Center, said Joe Skenderian, the concessionaire's on-site GM. Those items accounted for up to 25 percent of sales from in-seat service the first two nights they were offered.

On Feb. 11, the second night, the low-carb fare produced $600 in revenue from in-seat service, items that included bunless hamburgers, jalapeño sausages, and steak quesadillas and chicken Caesar wraps, both made with a low-carb tortilla.

The Platinum Club for suites and club seats has a burrito bar that also uses the special shells. Sportservice subcontracts with minority vendor Rudy's to make the tortillas, and business has been so brisk that the local firm plans to move its production from a satellite facility to the arena, Skenderian said.

Sportservice/Well Bread handles both premium and general concessions at 14 big league facilities and only general at seven more. Nick Biello, chief operating officer, said the concessionaire is "following the same pattern" at its ballparks, trying to be creative in taking existing ballpark foods and making them low-carb in content.

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