On opening day at Shea Stadium this past April, Aramark, the company that handles
food service at the Queens home of the New York Mets, served 26,000 hot dogs,
3,700 bags of peanuts, 7,500 orders of chicken tenders, 4,000 sausage and pepper
sandwiches (yow!), and 10,000 gallons of soda. While serving that amount of
food may seem like a monumental task, Shea’s two restaurants, The Diamond
Club and the Sports Club together average about 1000 covers a night. Even though
the Diamond club is perceived as an exclusive restaurant open only to select
fans, Assistant General Manager Chris Blumlo says that fans with a normal ticket
can usually get into the restaurant on most nights if they call ahead. Although
the experience is a bit dearer than a dog and a soda, the view combined with
the cuisine of the Diamond Club, where NYRI dined for a recent home game, is
well worth it.
Blumlo, a native of Boston, came to Aramark at Shea in 2002 from Restaurant Associates.
His responsibilities at RA included Cafe Manager at Bertelsmann Music Group in
the Business & Industry division before being transferred to RA’s Restaurant
Division, where he was dining room manager at Naples 45 and the Rock Center Summer
Garden. His challenge at Aramark was to help upgrade the cuisine at the stadium’s
two restaurants using his experience in the restaurant industry. He brought in
a new executive chef, Flavien Trichery (originally from France, most recently
from the Cosmopolitan Club, and a soccer fan who is still trying to learn about
the rules of baseball), introduced some fresh ideas, and has made the Diamond
Club restaurant a real destination spot for people with high expectations. It
also doesn’t hurt that the Mets are in first place and on their way to
the playoffs. But Blumlo and his associates don’t get to see many games.
“The Diamond club shuts down after the 2nd inning,” says Blumlo, “but
the Sports Club stays open until an hour after the game. This place remains
busy though, as some people have their dinner and just stay by the window and
watch the game from there.
The setup at Diamond club is a high-end buffet, but the quality of the food would
rival many high-end Manhattan restaurants. There is a fruit and salad area, a
sauté area, an imported and domestic cheese area, a meat carving area,
an entree area with chicken, meat, and fish, and a dessert station. Across the
hall, the Sports Club is a sit-down restaurant with menu items typical for a
sports bar. I asked Blumlo what he does in the off-season, expecting to hear
that he took several months off in the winter. No such luck.
“There’s more than enough work getting the place closed down. Then
most of the off-season is spent re-developing menus. It takes about a month to
close the place down and winterize it.”
Aramark also has a year-round cafeteria so they can serve meals to the Mets front-office
staff who work year-round. They typically spend November and December doing menu
development and completing any construction work, such as re-designing kitchens
areas or upgrading equipment. Then, the fun begins yet again, early in the year.
“Once we come back after New Years, we start to open up again. We have
about 1500 employees, so we start staffing, training, and hiring any more management
we might need for the season. As soon as February/March hits, all of us know
that it’s time for baseball, and we spend the rest of that time getting
While the turnover among kitchen staff is high, a typical scenario for any restaurant,
many of Aramark’s premium service employees are extremely dedicated.
“Among the wait staff, the suite attendants, and most of our premium service
positions, most of these people have been here upwards of 10-15 years. We had
a waiter who retired 3 years ago, and he was here from day 1 - since 1962.”
The Mets new stadium, still unnamed, will open for the 2009 season and feature
an upscale restaurant in left field, featuring tiered seating and a larger glass
viewing area with a fantastic view of the field. All the food there will be a
la carte, serving steaks, seafood, and upscale ballpark fare. Blumlo also speaks
highly of the second new restaurant in the upper deck. “It will be open
to all fans, serving signature stadium items and alcoholic beverages. This area
will be extremely popular due to the conditioned space and the view of the field.
Both Aramark and the Mets have worked tirelessly over the last year developing
the new stadium, with the goal of not only being a world class ballpark, but
having world class food service both in the general concessions and Premium dining
This website designed by Business Edge. Click here for Restaurant Website design information