CHICAGO, Jan. 28, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- If 2014 was the year craft beers exploded into sports and entertainment venues, 2015 will see hyper-personalized experiences and advanced technology revolutionize the way fans enjoy gameday beverage service, according to Levy Restaurants, the premier dining and hospitality partner at high-profile venues and events across the country.
A recent survey of sports fans over the age of 21, conducted by Levy, found expectations are low for what's on tap at the stadium, with the majority (62 percent) anticipating a limited selection of beer and wine, and less than 20 percent expecting to find items like signature cocktails, promotional beverages or gluten-free drinks.* But this year, America's arenas and stadiums are going toe-to-toe with the country's top watering holes, redefining local and craft beverage service on gameday.
"We've seen expectations for gourmet, local and innovative venue dining rise dramatically in the last decade and have introduced clubs and concepts to match," said Sean Parisi, National Director of Beverage for Levy Restaurants. "Now venues and franchises want to do the same with beverages, so we're introducing new technology, world-class bartending and other ways to create differentiated beverage experiences to redefine fan expectations across stadiums and arenas nationwide."
Ranging from high-touch to highly automated, venues are transforming beverage service in 2015, including a number of emerging developments from Levy Restaurants and its venue partners:
Precision of the Pour: Specialty cocktails and signature beverages helped commemorate the guest experience at sports and entertainment venues the last few years. This year, the mixologists behind these cocktails will lend their own personal touch on gameday and at events, with masters like 2014 Global Bartending Champion Charles Joly creating a more personalized, hand-crafted experience for guests. Joly, for example, will help crown Brooklyn's Best Mixologist and signature craft cocktail to be served at New York's Barclays Center, before jet-setting to LA to personally mix a pair of signature cocktails for Grammy Awards guests at the STAPLES Center.
Mixology for the Masses: Venues will also focus on replicating and scaling-up that intimate, mixologist-driven beverage experience to provide high-quality service to the large audiences they serve. Concepts like Joly's Crafthouse Cocktails – a trio of all-natural, gluten-free, ready-to-serve, small-batch cocktails – bring the consistent quality of a hand-crafted cocktail in a convenient package fans can pour themselves.
Joly and Crafthouse recently partnered with Levy at a slate of arenas across the U.S., including AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas; Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado; Amway Center in Orlando, Florida; and the Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
"Crowd size shouldn't compromise quality of service or product, whether you're entertaining a group of 15 or an audience of 15,000," said Joly. "We're excited to be working with Levy and, through tremendous attention to detail, help provide guests at sports and entertainment venues with the best possible beverage experience."
Customized Flavors: Whether providing an exclusive brew fans can only find at the arena, or designing cocktail menus customized to fans' flavor preferences, 2015 will see unprecedented hyper-personalized beverage service.
Thanks to enhanced local craft beer service at venues in 2014, more than 44 percent of fans now expect craft beer options at sporting events. This year, venues will take on a microbrewery mentality themselves, with custom-blended brews available exclusively at the arena, like Barclays Center's proprietary Slam Dunkel German style lager.
Fans' differing flavor preferences will also influence how venues design beverage menus. Salty concoctions like Texas Motor Speedway's Shake'n Bacon Brew catered to fans in southern states, who more often enjoy salty beverages, while the 60 percent of 18-24 year olds who prefer a varied flavor profile* will enjoy Chase Field's sweet and sour Snakebite cocktail.
The Robotification of Drink Service: Professional sports franchises and venues are introducing a wide range of automatic-serving devices, mobile apps and cutting-edge technology to ensure consistent beverage service and reduce wait times.
- Monsieur Bartender – Mr. Roboto, the bartender, arrives to sports and entertainment venues in 2015. At this year's Kentucky Derby, select guests can place their order through an intelligent robotic bartender which makes mixologist quality cocktails to-order, and suggests options based on fan preferences.
- DraftServ Technologies – DIY beer-dispensing platforms, like DraftServ (soon to launch at Philips Arena) allow fans the opportunity to pour themselves their favorite brew. The beers are priced by the ounce so fans can customize each beer by size and price.
Multiple Experiences under One Roof: It's not just about the beverage anymore, but how and where it's consumed. According to the survey, more than one-third of fans prefer to enjoy a beverage at the arena in specialty locations – besides their seats. Accordingly, sports venues are transforming into all-in-one destinations for a night out, rolling out new social experiences like on-site lounges and beer gardens.
Charlotte's Time Warner Cable Arena created a destination for fans to enjoy favorite craft beer and local heritage, with an expanded Beer Garden serving up nine Carolina brews. Likewise, AmericanAirlines Arena brings a sip of the South Beach social scene into the arena at the Hyde Lounge, which transitions from refined restaurant to nightclub after each game.
"We are always looking to develop unique offerings around not only food, but also the beverage interests of Hornets fans," said Charlotte Hornets President and Chief Operating Officer, Fred Whitfield. "Our organization prides itself on meeting our fans' needs, and as a result we are constantly working with Levy Restaurants to enhance our beverage options and experiences available at our games."
*According to a Google Consumer Survey fielded on behalf of Levy Restaurants on November 25, 2014.
About Levy Restaurants
Founded 1978, Levy has pioneered premium sports and entertainment dining and remains one of America's fastest growing and most critically acclaimed restaurant companies. Named one of the 10 most innovative companies in sports by Fast Company magazine, Levy's diverse portfolio includes award-winning restaurants, iconic sports and entertainment venues, convention centers as well as like the Super Bowl, World Series, US Open Tennis Tournament, Kentucky Derby, NHL, MLB and NBA All-Star Games. For more, visit www.levyrestaurants.com or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.
SOURCE Levy Restaurants