SBJ/Aug. 26-Sept. 1, 2013/Facilities

Levy filling the Horseshoe with local food

Levy Restaurants has upgraded Ohio State’s food operation by signing deals with 10 regional brands to feed Buckeyes football fans.

Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
The Chicago-based concessionaire followed through on its commitment to bring more local flavors to Ohio Stadium after signing a seven-year deal with the school in March to take over food service at all sports venues on campus.

The initiative played a key role for Levy winning the contract, as well as the financial guarantees it pays to the university and its extensive experience operating concessions and premium dining at the major league level,
Levy Restaurants is bringing new tastes and sprucing up stands at Ohio State.
Photo by: LEVY RESTAURANTS
Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith said.

“They just picked up Wisconsin, too,” Smith said. “Levy brings a pro sports mentality to concessions. That’s important because we need to be very creative to hold on to our fans. More of them are watching the games at home. Attendance is going down all over college football.”

Topping Levy’s list is Columbus restaurateur Cameron Mitchell, whose signature recipes from four of his themed eateries — Cap City Diner, Marcella’s, Ocean Club and the Pearl — will be served on the club level. Mitchell has been running his own restaurants for 20 years.

Ohio flavors

Local and regional brands coming to Ohio Stadium as part of Levy Restaurants’ Pride of Ohio program.

Cameron Mitchell restaurants
Schmidt’s cream puffs
Graeter’s ice cream
Blue Jacket Dairy
Mike Sells Potato Chips
Short North Bagel Co.
Yellow Boy’s Polish Boy’s
Ohio Pasture Proud
Gerber’s Amish Farm
Local Hog food truck

Source: Levy Restaurants

Other Ohio brands such as Graeter’s ice cream (Cincinnati) and Blue Jacket Dairy (Harrison) are regional companies that reflect the statewide audience that fills the 107,000 seats in “The Shoe” on football game days.

Molly Kurth, Levy’s director of operations at Ohio State, held the same position for Sodexo, the school’s former food provider, and her knowledge of the sports food landscape on campus and throughout Ohio was key for selecting the right vendors to drive revenue, Weber said.

Levy also did statewide market research and product sampling of potential partners to arrive at the right mix of regional brands, she said.
Over the past 60 days, Levy revamped the 28 concession stands it operates at Ohio Stadium with new signs and upgraded equipment and graphics. The company also renovated half of the 60 total portable carts operating in the building, she said.

Columbus-based Donato’s Pizza, Marsha’s Homemade Buckeyes candy and food truck purveyors Roosters and Pitabilities are holdovers from last season. The food trucks are part of Ohio State’s fan fest program on the south plaza outside the stadium.

In a separate deal with the university, Panera Bread will run three stands at Ohio Stadium through its ties with Sam Covelli, Panera’s largest franchisee and a major Ohio State athletics donor.

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