A combination of labor constraints, lingering COVID-related distancing rules and habits and the ongoing need of fans for convenience is driving technology solutions in the sports concessions market, the latest iteration being a new self-service concept launched at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh late last month. It allows fans to select and order food and beverage items from an exclusive menu directly at their seats and then pick them up from one of 24 dual-chamber, temperature-controlled food lockers located adjacent to the arena’s Ford Lounge. That location not only allows all arena guests to order from the new, curated menu, which featuring items ranging from truffle buffalo chicken tenders to beer and canned cocktails, but also serves as an added amenity to Ford Lounge patrons.
“As consumer preferences continue to evolve—leaning towards faster, on-demand, and contactless self-service models—we are excited to offer hockey fans at PPG Paints Arena the latest in mobile ordering innovation,” says Alicia Woznicki, vice president of design and development for Aramark Sports & Entertainment.
The system uses Cargill’s Chekt system and Tapin2’s mobile order fulfillment solution, which connects the Penguins Mobile App to the lockers with a simple SMS-based notification system. Through it, orders are placed into a locker’s hot or ambient temperature compartments, depending on the food or beverage item, ensuring fans can enjoy their order fresh and at their convenience.
“The Penguins are constantly seeking innovative ways to enhance and improve our fans’ experience at PPG Paints Arena through our partnership with Aramark,” offers Penguins COO/General Counsel Kevin Acklin. “Our new Ford Lounge mobile lockers allow for food and drink orders to be conveniently placed on your phone using our Penguins app technology and picked up at a convenient time so fans don’t miss any on-ice action.”
Here’s how the process works…
Fans will locate the Ford Food Garage tile on the Penguins app and click to view the menu, adding their choices to their virtual cart and paying through the app. They receive confirmation via SMS, then, when the order is ready, they receive a text instructing them to retrieve their food. When they arrive, they simply reply ‘here’ via SMS and the locker containing their order lights up and unlocks.
“By pairing our scale and connections across the food supply chain with consumer insights and understanding of food service, Cargill is in a position to build new disruptive digital solutions by the industry, for the industry,” said Eric Parkin, digital business leader, Cargill. “Chekt lockers and software is one example of how we’re meeting those specific needs.”