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Volume 21 No. 2
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Plugged In: Pat Delaney, Professional Sports Catering

As regional director of operations for Professional Sports Catering, Pat Delaney  covers a lot of ground among the firm’s 32 minor league baseball and spring training accounts, including Ballpark of the Beaches in West Palm Beach, Fla., the new spring training home of the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals. Delaney’s background as an independent concessionaire on the fair and festival circuit presented weekly challenges for Rosie’s Diner, which he ran for 16 years before getting into the sports food industry.

I’m the go-to person to make sure we stay on track and hit our metrics. I enjoy it, especially the ‘putting out the fires’ part. It’s what I’ve done all my life … helping to put it all back together again.

On PSC’s growth over the past four years: It’s been explosive. I started in 2013 with a boutique company that had identified a niche in minor league baseball. The next thing I know, we’re signing teams as fast as we can get them. Levy Restaurants [which acquired PSC in May 2014] knows we’re really good at what we do. It’s been quite a ride. Now we’re picking up more business from clients we already have, such as Dave Heller. He owns Main Street Baseball [owner of four minor league teams], and PSC has become his exclusive food provider.

On the possibility of PSC expanding to other sports: There have been some conversations about it. Levy’s all about continued growth, and I can see PSC looking at other avenues of revenue.

On the dynamics of stadium food pricing: Given what I do for a living, I never complain about prices, but if given a choice of paying $12 for a beer, I would not go to a game. … But our expenses don’t change and the margins get thinner with less profitability. We do a lot of specials at the minor league level and most of them drive a ton of revenue. Thirsty Thursdays in Davenport, Iowa, are often better than Saturdays because it drives traffic.

On “Food Fight,” Minor League Baseball’s wacky food promotion: It’s good for the media but not for us. It gets you followers [on social media] but it’s a pain in the butt and it drags the bottom line. You have to produce a specialty item from perishable foods and it takes a long time to make and reduces turnover rates. But food is fun now and fans love the promotion. Last year, we did Porkzilla, a giant pork tenderloin [in Davenport]. The difference was, when the client came to me, I was able to put something together on a portable cart from stock I already had, turn it around quickly and avoid the long lines. I got lucky last year. One year, we did a bacon-wrapped corn dog and it didn’t sell well. There were less than 100 sold for the season.

— Don Muret