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Volume 20 No. 42
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Levy, Bon Appétit double-up for Warriors

The Golden State Warriors, recognizing the critical role food plays at their new arena in San Francisco, have signed a deal with Levy Restaurants and Bon Appétit Management Co., two firms that made their mark in premium dining at sports venues and corporate institutions.

Both food service companies have been part of Compass Group for 15 years, but the multiyear agreement at Chase Center stands out as the first time they have partnered at a sports facility, said Andy Lansing, Levy’s president and CEO. The $1 billion arena will open for the 2019-20 NBA season.

“We both felt by collaborating together we could create something unique and different,” said Bon Appétit co-founder and CEO Fedele Bauccio.

In one of the world’s great culinary markets, the deal extends Levy Restaurants’ relationship with the Warriors, which has been in place at Oracle Arena since 2004. The addition of Palo Alto-based Bon Appétit brings greater strength to the table with local expertise. The company feeds thousands of high-tech executives in the Bay Area and has been a pioneer in food sustainability dating to its original farm-to-table concept in 1999.

Hot Dog Bill’s distinctive fare will be available at Chase Center.

Chase Center’s menu will showcase five popular Bay Area food items, all picked by Bon Appétit Management Co. co-founder and CEO Fedele Bauccio.

Bakesale Betty: Australian chef Alison Barakat, whose specialty is a buttermilk fried chicken sandwich, runs a pop-up store in Oakland.

Hot Dog Bill’s: Don’t be confused. It’s a hot dog-shaped hamburger, up to now available only at the Olympic Country Club from a shack between the ninth and 10th holes.

Big Nate’s BBQ: Bon Appétit will re-create the barbecue brand founded by late Hall of Fame center Nate Thurmond.

Sam’s Chowder House: Popcorn shrimp and lobster rolls. Sam’s is a favorite among food trucks at Avaya Stadium, home of the San Jose Earthquakes.

Tacolicious: Mexican food, including braised meat tacos. The vendor has five locations in San Francisco, Palo Alto and San Jose.

Bon Appétit was founded in 1987 and runs the food at most of Silicon Valley’s top tech firms, including Adobe, Brocade, Google, LinkedIn, Oracle, SAP, Uber, Twitter, Yahoo and Sony. The company also has deals with about 40 colleges and museums.

In sports, its portfolio is lean, but it does have the premium dining account at AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants and a stadium known for some of the best food in MLB. Bon Appétit has served the Giants’ suite and club patrons since the ballpark opened in 2000.

“We’re looking for a much better food experience than what we currently have at Oracle Arena,” said Warriors President Rick Welts, who also worked with Levy Restaurants during his tenure with the Phoenix Suns. “When Levy and Bon Appétit came together, they made the most powerful presentation … and were the clear winner.”

The agreement is a management fee contract, giving the Warriors greater control over pricing than would a revenue split, in which the vendors set prices to drive profit margins. The two vendors and the team share the cost for buying food and equipment.

“It’s not the first time [a management fee contract has] been done, but the NBA has been telling us to look differently in the future with these deals to ensure the best quality,” he said.

To this point, the two concessionaires have not determined how they will split the responsibilities for running general concessions and premium catering, but the idea is to promote the partnership as a whole without one brand taking priority over the other, Welts said.

“It’s fully integrated,” Lansing said. “You’re going to see the Warriors’ brand [on employee uniforms], not Levy or Bon Appétit.”

The concept is similar to what Aramark has done with its team-branded operations at NFL stadiums in Chicago and Cleveland.

In San Francisco, as part of the food operation, Bon Appétit has signed deals with five local vendors to serve their products at Chase Center through the partnership’s Tastemakers program.