Tag Archives: OAKLEY’s Bistro

Impact of the Super Bowl on Indianapolis Foodservices

For Indianapolis, early February usually has bitter cold temperatures, snow and ice.  Those in the city avoid being outdoors as much as possible because of the frigid temperatures.  So upon being named the Super Bowl host city for 2012, it could only be expected that people were wondering how the city was going to pull it off.

Not only did Indianapolis exceed expectations, the weather was unusually cooperating too.  There were days with temperatures in the low 50s, almost making locals forget about the severe ice storm the city had just a year ago.   There were a few days with rain, but all in all the weather was oddly pleasant for this time of the year.

Super Bowl Village ribbon cutting ceremony

The 10 day extravaganza kicked off on Friday Jan. 27 with the first six or seven days being heavily local traffic.  Then by Thursday Feb. 2, the out of town guests started trickling in and the city was packed.

One of the major benefits of having an event as large as the Super Bowl in Indianapolis is how close everything is in the downtown area.  It’s very manageable to walk from one end of downtown to another.

Restaurants all over the downtown area and beyond were anticipating a huge increase in business.  Before events began, Julia Watson, vice president of marketing and communications for Indianapolis Downtown Inc., said businesses were forecasting as much as six months of business in the 10 day period.

So restaurants planned. They all planned. Those restaurants and food trucks in the immediate downtown area close to Super Bowl Village had to do a little bit of extra planning to ensure their food deliveries could be made and employees could get to work due to street closures.

Today Show crowd

Originally, it was anticipated 150,000 people would come into the city—and in a recent Indianapolis Star article; Super Bowl Host Committee officials said the total attendance (locals and out of town guests) at the Super Bowl Village alone was probably over 1 million.

So how did it all pan out for foodservices?

It was great for those near Super Bowl Village.  But many downtown locations a little further out from Super Bowl Village and extending cities planned for large crowds that didn’t all come.

Despite being 20 to 30 minutes outside of downtown, OAKLEY’s Bistro, a restaurant on Indianapolis’ northwest side, was successful.  In January, they said they were creating different menu options and were even opening on Super Bowl Sunday and the following Monday—two days they are normally closed.

“We had a great weekend, very busy,” said Chris Hopkins, manager at OAKLEY’s.  “A lot of our business was from out of town guests and it was great to introduce them to OAKLEY’s.”

Hopkins said the only negative aspect were the number of people who made reservations then didn’t show. They were able to still fill the spots with walk-in traffic, which is something Hopkins said is pretty common on special event weekends.

Monument Circle

When it came to mobile food, the food trucks were a big hit.  The city reserved space for them on Monument Circle, where the famous Super Bowl Roman Numerals stood.

Food truck Duos Indy was nervous and excited before all the Super Bowl festivities took place.  After it was all said and done, the warm weather was great for them and the rainy days weren’t the best.

“We had an amazing Friday night and were prepared for that kind of business every day,” said Becky Hostetter, chef and co-owners of Duos. “Other days and nights were fine and right at our projections, but the rain Saturday was problematic.  We also found that Sunday was a bust.”

Hostetter also noticed how a majority of the crowds stayed closer to the Super Bowl Village and away from some of the locations on the outer parts of downtown.

“That was hard for all our friends in the restaurant business in the surrounding areas (Fountain Square, Mass Ave., etc.) who had worked so long and hard to prepare thoughtfully for such an event.”

All in all, Hostetter said they discovered they were completely capable of handling the large crowds while prepping in a smart and thoughtful way.  They also met their expectation of serving guests within 60 seconds of them approaching a window.  This is quick service–especially on their busiest nights, one of which they served around 550 people.

When it came to food rescuing (organizations who gather food that foodservices overstock, over prepare or don’t use that hasn’t been served to the public), Ben Shine, communications and development manager at Second Helpings, said they had a whirlwind of a weekend.

On Feb. 6, Shine said they had already rescued around 20,000 pounds of food, with more to come.  Then they recently updated the numbers and on Feb. 16, the total amount rescued was 46,000 pounds.  And for their kick-off event “Souper Bowls,” where local artists, chefs and community members got together to help fight hunger in central Indiana, they had over 500 in attendance and cleared just over $10,000.

St. Elmo Steak House

As for restaurants? Those closer to the Super Bowl Village probably received the most business—with the most popular place in the city to visit being St. Elmo Steak House.

Prior to the events, St. Elmo’s made sure they were fully prepared.  Bryn Jones, director of marketing, said they knew they would be a go-to place but it ended up being even bigger than they anticipated.

“It was a very big week for us in terms of sales and national and local publicity,” Jones said. “We were prepared for both, but it was still a lot to handle.”

Shrimp is one of the restaurant’s signature menu items and Jones mentioned over the course of the week, they sold over two tons of it.

St. Elmo’s was a top restaurant for celebrities and athletes to dine at, too.  Michael Douglas, Adam Sandler, John Travolta, Jerry Bruckheimer, The Fray, Eli Manning and Tom Brady are just a handful of the many celebrities and athletes Jones said came through their doors.

“Pretty wild week!” he said, which is a perfect way to sum it up.

Super Bow Host Committee with Blue wearing Super Bowl scarves

It was an incredibly wild week for the city.  Indianapolis put on a Super Bowl extravaganza that many frequent Super Bowl visitors said was the best they had ever experienced. Who would have thought the Midwestern city with the nickname “Naptown” would go on to host one of the best Super Bowl’s to date?

The city exceeded expectations and it was not only a great opportunity to showcase the city as whole, but to showcase the finer details such as great food and Hoosier hospitality.  Definitely one for the record books, that’s for sure.

All images used with permission from the 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee.

Super Bowl Foodservice Series Part 2: Food Trucks, Rescue and State-Wide Events

Monument Circle/Indianapolis Super Bowl Press Center

Welcome to the second part of our Super Bowl foodservice series. If you missed the first part, click here to see how downtown restaurants have been impacted by the 10 day extravaganza that leads up to the Super Bowl.

Aside from restaurants, mobile food will play a very important role during this year’s Super Bowl events.

While there will be mobile food sites all over, the city has created a special opportunity just for food trucks and have set aside space just for them on downtown Indianapolis’ Monument Circle.

The trucks will be out from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday Jan. 27 through Sunday Jan. 29 and Thursday Feb. 2 through Sunday Feb. 5.

The space is available in two shifts, 11 trucks in the first shift, then 12 trucks in the second.

Duos Indy food truck is one of the trucks that will park on Monument Circle.  Becky Hostetter, chef and a co-owner of Duos, said they are nervous and excited.

“For food trucks, we don’t really know how it will play out but we are planning on all goodness and light.”

Duos Indy/Duos Indy Facebook

One of the interesting aspects of their plans (as for many of the other food trucks and restaurants) has been the menu.

“We want to remain true to our brand and serve with speed, serve food that speaks to the guests and maintains integrity.”

The NY Slice is another truck to park on Monument Circle and said they have had to increase staff by 80 percent.  They have also produced a second truck with two serving windows and two brick ovens inside.

With hundreds of thousands coming to Indianapolis, restaurants, hotels, etc., have worked extremely hard to make sure everyone that walks through their doors gets a meal.  However, believe it or not, not all of the food is used.

That’s where local food rescue organizations like Second Helpings come in and rescue unused food and redistribute it to the hungry.

Ben Shine, communications and development manager at Second Helpings, said they were approached by the 1st & Green part of the Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee to rescue food during this year’s Super Bowl events.

Souper Bowls/Second Helpings

He mentioned Super Bowl host committees started working with food rescue organizations three years ago at the Miami Super Bowl and that year alone rescued about 90,000 pounds of food.

Shine described rescued food as anything overstocked, over prepared or unused that has not yet been served to the public.  It also must have only been handled by safe food handlers.

He isn’t sure how much they will rescue, but knows they certainly will.  And as they are located in downtown Indianapolis, they have already developed relationships with several restaurants, hotels, etc., which will make the food rescue process much easier.

“There is not as big of a learning curve,” he said, as compared to cities where food rescuing isn’t common.  “Restaurants will know how to store and take care of the foods.”

Also, to kick off Second Helpings’ involvement with the Super Bowl, they have joined together with local artists and chefs for the event “Souper Bowls 2012,” which will be held on Saturday Jan. 28.

Souper Bowls/Second Helpings

Souper Bowls is a chance for the public to taste some of city’s best soups as well as meet with artists, chefs and members of the community to fight hunger in Central Indiana.

The events being held for the Super Bowl are endless–and extend far beyond Indianapolis’ downtown area near Lucas Oil Stadium where much of the action will take place.

OAKLEY’s Bistro is located on Indianapolis’ northwest side.  Despite being 15 to 30 minutes from downtown (depending on how traffic behaves), they have had to make several adjustments to accommodate guests.

“We have a few larger parties coming in, companies that are entertaining, but for the most part we expect our business to come from hotels in our immediate area when people are deciding where to eat,” said Chris Hopkins, manager at OAKLEY’S.

Normally, OAKLEY’s is closed on Sundays and Mondays but will have special hours to be open on Sunday Jan. 29 and Monday Jan. 30.  They will also be open on Super Bowl Sunday at 11 a.m. for a Champagne Brunch.

There are around 20 other areas and cities, some as far as 45 miles outside of Indianapolis, declared as Super Celebration Sites.  Some sites are businesses while others are restaurants.

“Super Celebration sites are natural gathering places which provide opportunities for residents and visitors to get information about the many activities surrounding the Super Bowl,” their website said.

IN State Fair Host Committee Promotional Booth/Indianapolis Super Bowl Press Center

“The Super Celebration Site program is designed to connect Central Indiana regional communities hosting NFL fans and guests.  Each site has housing for NFL guests and fans, a concentration of restaurants and other hospitality amenities and a collaborative group to plan and organize programming.”

Becoming a city set to host the Super Bowl is a great opportunity to showcase what a city has to offer.  It’s a lot of work for all involved, but all the hard work pays off in both the short and long term.

Indianapolis sure has a lot to offer and it will be a great 10 days.  We’ll be sure to follow up with the restaurants and food trucks mentioned, as well as Second Helpings to see how all events pan out.

If you have anything to share about your Super Bowl experience, whether it’s this year in Indianapolis or a previous year, let us know! We’d love to hear about it.