Super Bowl Foodservice Series Part 1: Restaurants Gearing Up for Event

On Sunday Feb. 5, the New England Patriots and the New York Giants will meet again for Super Bowl XLVI.

Not only is the Super Bowl one of the biggest games of the year, but it’s also such a grand event for the hosting city.  This year, the game will be played in the same city as Central’s headquarters—Indianapolis.

The city is truly pulling out all the stops for the 10 day extravaganza that leads up to the actual game.  There are several events such as the NFL Experience and the Super Bowl Village which includes warming zones, an 800-foot-long, four line Zipline, exclusive opportunities and tons of free entertainment.

For all events to go smoothly, all businesses in a hosting city have to be involved and prepare.  This ranges from hotels and businesses to restaurants and food trucks.  The foodservice industry as a whole will play a huge role in the Super Bowl festivities.

Rendering of Super Bowl Village

Julia Watson, vice president of marketing and communications for Indianapolis Downtown, Inc., said businesses have had to forecast as much as six months of business in the 10 day period.

“You can’t do business as usual with a lean staff, or haven’t changed the delivery schedule to make sure to have supplies on hand,” she explained.

“Restaurants have gone to great effort and expense to maximize their ability to serve a very large number of visitors in a short amount of time.”

Watson said restaurants have stepped up in many ways such as an increased staff, streamlined food and beverage menus, extended hours of operation, additional seating and enhanced amenities such as outdoor heaters, etc.

There are an estimated 150,000 coming to Indianapolis.  While this is an excellent and unique business opportunity, it can be a challenge to plan how it will all work when taking into consideration the number of seats available versus how many will be coming in.

In a recent article from the Indianapolis Star, they estimated there are about 25,000 seats in the city’s approximate 200 restaurants.  Then on top of that, many streets have been closed so restaurants have had to strategically plan how they will receive deliveries from vendors and how their employees will make it in to work.

“Deliveries will be a challenge,” said Bryn Jones, director of marketing at St. Elmo Steak House. “Our plan here is to have all deliveries made in the early A.M. every day, and we will have employees working 24/7 so that we will be able to receive inventory when it is more convenient for delivery drivers to get in and out of the city due to the huge increase in traffic during the day.”

Then for their employee’s commute, Jones said they will have two buses circling a route to help employees get to and from the restaurant.

“This will be necessary to help us and our employees save money by not having to pay $50 or whatever amount is charged per day in parking.”

Going back to the mathematics of the “seat to tourist ratio,” the city has plans that will help both restaurants and visitors to make it all work.

Volunteers at Volunteer Kick-Off

Communications Director Jennifer Hansen of Indianapolis Downtown, Inc. said there will be “mobile concierge” on the streets walking around to assist visitors.

“They will have live updates on restaurant availability to tell guests what’s opening,” she said.

But restaurants will not be the only way visitors can get something to eat.

Hansen also mentioned the Super Bowl Village will have mobile food sites too.

Mobile food, which is a trend that has truly boomed over the past year—especially in Indianapolis, will play an important role in this year’s Super Bowl events.

Click here for the second part of our Super Bowl series to learn how Indianapolis food trucks will participate as well as food rescuing and how restaurants outside of the downtown area have been impacted.

All images used with permission from the Indianapolis Super Bowl Press Center.

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