Think of the NFL stadium hamburger of yesteryear. Whether five, 10 or even 20 years ago, it was a nondescript strip of meat slapped between a typical church potluck-type bun, offered up with your squeeze-containers of ketchup, mustard, relish and—maybe—chopped onions a few yards away on a concourse counter tucked between the restrooms and your stairwell.
Across much of the league, that hamburger still exists, but not in the same form: Now it’s a grass-fed beef burger on a sourdough bun served with lettuce, onions, tomatoes and pickles and adorned with condiments in front of you.
“People are much more food focused,” says Sal Ferrulo, executive vice president for Centerplate, a company that tackles food service in five NFL stadiums, including the newest, Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. “We’ve had to make the event a better experience for the fan. It is about the game, the food, being comfortable. It is the era of the open kitchen. People buy with their eyes, they want to see the food and smell it.”