When students step foot into the brand new California Memorial Stadium next week, they will find shiny new advancements to appeal to their eyes as well as an upgraded menu to appease their appetites. Hummus, sushi, veggie burgers, salted pretzels — just a few of the items on the menu — will be enough to get mouths salivating and stomachs growling.
Cal Dining, a UC Berkeley program that feeds the campus community as well as students who live in the campus’s Residential and Student Service Programs, signed a 15-year contract beginning July 1 with Cal Athletics to provide all of its concessions for home sporting events.
The new menu at Memorial Stadium will include various food options, making it as eclectic as the campus community itself.
“We wanted to reflect the diversity in the UC Berkeley community,” said Patrice Thomas, a public representative for Cal Dining. “We wanted to extend that campus philosophy and introduce it to Memorial Stadium.”
According to Shawn LaPean, the executive director of Cal Dining, the new menu will also include healthier food options.
“The Cal community tends towards stable and healthier food options, so we are trying to provide some of these options to the students in the best way possible,” said LaPean.
Thomas said that the new items on the menu would not replace the concession staples, such as hot dogs, popcorn, and churros, but rather just provide more options to students.
“It’s what is still expected. Stadiums around the country sell these items in their concession stands, so as a standard we must as well, but UC Berkeley can be unique and provide other options according to what the community wants,” said Thomas.
According to LaPean, the top four concession items sold at collegiate or professional stadiums across the nation are sodas, hot dogs, popcorn and pretzels.
“When I go to a ball game, I want a hot dog,” said LaPean. “It’s the only time I want to eat one, but I want one regardless. So we will keep that standard, but we wanted to make sure the menu had other fun options.”
In addition to the new menu, Cal Dining has partnered with several businesses to serve food at Memorial Stadium. According to Thomas, these vendors include Top Dog, Bonehead’s Texas BBQ and Home of Chicken & Waffles, among several others.
The various vendors will be concentrated in different areas throughout the stadium. For example, according to LaPean, Top Dog will only serve in two locations in order to control the quality of its hot dogs.
Because of its reputation as a student favorite, LaPean said that Cal Dining reached out to Top Dog to serve as a vendor in Memorial Stadium as a fun option for students.
“At Cal Dining, we are constantly trying to bring in food that people enjoy,” said LaPean. “If people don’t like certain things, we get rid of them. So students will see changes from game to game.”
LaPean hopes that the new menu will help Memorial Stadium to emulate the famous AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, which is known for fan food favorites such as the fried soft shell crab sandwich.
“We want to find those things that our fans enjoy and customize all of our menus accordingly,” said LaPean. “We are trying to see where we are hitting the mark.”
According to Thomas, the concession stands will get Cal and football related names, such as The Big C, Golden Bear Grill and Endzone Grill.
“We wanted to use names that were campus and food-related that suited the school spirit and Cal environment,” said Thomas.
Now the UC Berkeley community will fill up Memorial Stadium for the first time on September 1 to watch Cal’s opening game with University of Nevada with a bear-sized hunger for success — and delicious gourmet food.