Feature Article - April 2003
Find a printable version here

True Concessions

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

Strategic locations
The Shrimp Haus Restaurant & Club at Schlitterbahn Beach
Waterpark in South Padre Island, Texas

Holtzman, like many consultants, also discourages his clients from opening concession stands in outdoor parks, especially those used for passive recreation such as walking and bicycling. Those areas typically attract picnickers who bring their own food.

"If it's just a park with some trees, I say don't do it," Holtzman says.

They are several reasons not to open a snack bar in a passive parkā€”and most of them have to do with money. First and foremost, patrons are less likely to accept concession-stand prices outdoors than they would be inside a waterpark or football stadium.

"Think of it like a movie theater," Holtzman says. "In a movie theater, you don't mind paying $4 for a Coke. But you wouldn't pay $4 for a Coke outside the theater."

Some concession-stand operators remedy the park problem by building an exterior walk-up window in the facility snack bar. In Golden, for example, the aquatic center concession stand has a service window facing out toward the local park. The design allows park patrons to buy sodas or hot dogs as they pass, without saddling the local recreation managers with the headaches of running another snack bar in the park.

"It has worked well," Holtzman says.