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Golden Chick Preps for Baseball Stadium’s Opening Day

Golden Chick’s robust strategy for the brand includes a goal to have 500 Golden Chick units open by 2030. That would more than double the size of this quick-service chain, which currently operates 187 stores serving its signature fried chicken.

Jim Stevens, President, Golden ChickAdding to its growth initiatives, Golden Chick opted to branch out with a stadium offering in the new Texas Rangers baseball stadium, Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. While the Major League Baseball (MLB) season remains on hold as of press time due to the COVID-19 crisis, Golden Chick will be ready to feed the fans when the doors open.

Q: Since COVID-19 delayed baseball, do you know when you will now open?

A: The date of opening day is a little up in the air right now. The first game, Rangers vs. the Los Angeles Angels, was supposed to be March 31. Now, it is not exactly clear as to when the season will resume. Regardless, we will be ready when baseball is ready.

Q: Clearly COVID-19 presented a huge challenge. How have you managed additional challenges around a project of this size?

A: When you go into a situation of this magnitude, you have to understand the complexity. This is a brand-new stadium with a lot of vendors. You must set up the infrastructure to succeed.

The lesson we learned in the process is to take a step back, be patient, guide and direct. There will always be issues you have to work through.

Our first big one was the closing of the stadium due to the coronavirus. We were ready to open up for the first event and preseason, but that didn’t happen as scheduled. We still participated in media day and received a wonderful response to the menu and our unique offerings.

The stadium allowed a season ticket holder preview. Those ticket holders were able to come in to the new stadium, find their seats and purchase food from the vendors. So, we had a three-hour window practice run, which went very well.

Of course, when we get to opening day, that will be a different animal. But we’re prepared for it from a prep standpoint, an inventory standpoint, training and staffing standpoint.

Even though this was a huge undertaking, it is not out of our wheelhouse. It’s what we do. It’s very natural for us.

What’s different is having a third-party management company in the mix. Even then, Delaware North is like one of our franchisees, just on a different scale. The biggest challenge going forward is training and the turnover that takes place in a venue like the stadium. Plus, of course, maintaining the quality that we provide in our brick-and-mortar stores.

We’re excited to be a part of the new stadium. We have a great relationship with the Rangers. They’ve been a good partner to us, we’ve been a good partner to them, and we are looking forward to an exciting future in the new venue.

Q: What was Golden Chick’s relationship with the Rangers prior to the new stadium?

A: We have had a long-term relationship with the Texas Rangers, and the new stadium created an opportunity for us to bring the Golden Chick experience inside the venue and become a key part of the group of vendors that will feed three million fans per year. We have been a major sponsor of the MLB Texas Rangers for the past three years, most notably with our sponsorship of the famous Texas Rangers Dot Race.

The Dot Race is a fan favorite taking place in the sixth inning that involves universal interest from the in-stadium fans. It’s an outstanding branding opportunity for Golden Chick because the Dot Race costumes prominently display the Golden Chick logo.

All attendees receive a Dot Race coupon that they can redeem at any local [Dallas–Fort Worth] area Golden Chick location if their dot color wins the race.

Golden Chick ExteriorGolden Chick will offer a slimmed-down menu at its new stadium operation. Staff will handle much of the prep in the commissary and common kitchen area at the ballpark.

Q: How was location determined inside the stadium?

A: Our in-stadium concession location is located on the first base side of the main concourse outside Section 127. Delaware North will manage the day-to-day operation of the new location. They took a look at the size of our potential business, as well as the menu offerings, and gave us several options as to where our location could be.

I would consider where we landed to be a home run if not a grand slam. There were several national chicken brands that wanted placement in the ballpark, but our relationship with the Rangers gave us an advantage.

Q: How did you build out the equipment package for this space?

A: We’ve designed our equipment package based on the data we evaluated. The package includes fryers, refrigerated space, storage for rolls and chicken sandwiches, as well as storage for paper supplies, sinks and an oven. We had only approximately 600 square feet to work with, and I think we did a stellar job maximizing the efficiency and output for the space we had.

Much of the prep is done in an amazing commissary and common kitchen area of the park, which allows us more room.

We put a lot of thought into projecting the flow of business. We’ve examined traditional baseball games and venue sales, paying attention to the ebb and flow. There are pregame sales (we open two hours before the first pitch), but the peak is between third and sixth innings. There is an art to managing demand throughout the game flow, and we feel that we have an excellent partner with Delaware North in estimating and forecasting for this business model.

Q: How does the stadium menu differ from a traditional Golden Chick store?

A: We designed a slimmed-down menu for the ballpark. We offer our Original Golden Tenders, our brand-new Big and Golden Chicken Sandwich served with our proprietary Lotta Zing sauce on a fresh-baked yeast bun, and of course, our famous hot yeast rolls and fries.

In the ballpark, each vendor serves a different type of cuisine. There are vendors that specialize in salad, steak sandwich vendors and so forth. We are the only chicken-specific brand.

Q: How does the management piece work on-site?

A: The management company for the stadium’s food courts, Delaware North, had a great strategy. They wanted to bring in a variety of products, but they didn’t want any crossover among the vendors. This allows all of us to be successful in that environment. We can provide a snapshot of who we are as a brand and the fact that product quality is our number-one mission.

Since Delaware North will be operating everything in our location, we have spent a lot of time helping them understand our business. We particularly wanted them to understand our expectations from a quality standpoint. It takes a lot of training and a lot of oversight to maintain that quality and our standard for service.

We have a director of operations and a director of training from Golden Chick who are and will be heavily involved in the execution of service. You can imagine, if customers don’t receive the same level of quality at the stadium that they do in our restaurants, what kind of impression that would leave for our brand.