The real-life story behind how recreational facilities can improve food services, cut costs and increase profits, from snack bars to full-fledged restaurants
By Stacy St. Clair
Wait a minute before you fire up that grill. Do you really think those same-old hot dogs and tired hamburgers are enough? Are you still running your food service with the mere hope of breaking even? Then you, my friend, have a problem. That's the antiquated—not to mention financially naive—way to run a concession stand. It's time to think outside the bun.
Today's hottest concession stands, snack bars and restaurant services have creative menus, interesting condiments and clever marketing plans. And, best of all, they make money.
|PHOTO COURTESY OF JOHN UHL, CENTURY INDUSTRIES|
|A portable concession building can offer more |
flexibility and exposure, at a lower cost, than the
typical fixed site concession building.
"It used to be everyone was price conscious and because of that they bought the cheapest hot dogs and coffee they could find, and they served them as cheap as possible," says Chris Bigelow, a concession consultant with The Bigelow Companies in Kansas City, Mo. "Forget that. Serve the best hot dog and best cup of coffee—and price it accordingly."
The trend now can be found in everything from gourmet bratwurst to the hippest java drinks. Old-school concession philosophy suggested never charging more than $1 for a cup of coffee. But we're a Starbuck's world now. We'll happily shell out a few bucks for coffee, if it has a fancy name and a shot of espresso.
"People now pay $3.50 for a cup of coffee without blinking," Bigelow says.
As the willingness to pay for gourmet foods has increased, so has the expectation of quality. Concession-stand customers want more than just hot dogs. They want chili dogs, cheese dogs, Chicago dogs with cucumbers, pickles and hot peppers. They also prefer condiment bars with a variety of toppings, including salsas, vegetables and hot sauces.
"It's not just ketchup and mustard anymore," Bigelow says.