Recently I took my friend Eric Clary to a game at Fluor Field. I expected to have a hot dog and beer. Instead, I enjoyed a steak sandwich with horseradish sauce, a wonderful hot dog, local brew and great nachos served with style and fairly priced. Wait — aren’t sports arenas supposed to buy the cheapest ingredients, mark them up many times over and repeatedly gouge their customers?
“That’s the beauty of managing our own concessions. Most of the stadiums turn over their food and beverage to a contractor and they lose control of the quality, the price, the experience all of it.”
That’s Jeff Brown, president of the Greenville Drive. He’s the guy who hired a legit chef to manage the stadium’s concessions. Brown sees the stadium as much more than a place to watch baseball.
“We’re really a community-events platform and we’re here to help people make memories,” he said.
And on a busy Friday night, chef Sammy Dominguez might serve up to 6,000 hungry souls from a menu that features everything from traditionally crafted cocktails and local beer to truffle fries and ice cream. His restaurant is only open 66 nights a year and on those nights his crew’s crunch time may last three hours. In that time, they may serve literal mountains of fries, nachos and pulled pork.
Dominguez has spent time leading kitchens in Miami, Charleston and Greenville before taking over the food at Fluor Field.
Flour Field’s food lineup
His Argentinian heritage is evident in the Major League sandwich. Slices of teres major, a narrow muscle found inside the c14huck and the second-most-tender muscle of beef, are served on a buttery bun with house-made horseradish sauce and lots of cheddar cheese.
It’s truly an unexpected treat for stadium food. Eric took a bite, cheered on the Drive’s batter as he drove in a run, then remarked, “If there (was a) lunch place serving this, I’d be all over it.”
“I’m Argentinian, and we love our beef so I gotta bring something,” Dominguez said. “I can’t walk through here as the chef of the city’s largest restaurant and not put my mark on the food, right chef?”
Dominguez offered up a second course of his bacon-wrapped Boston dog and a healthy serving of fried chicken Philly nachos. The hot dog was topped with baked beans, coleslaw and a squirt of yellow sunshine. After a bite of the dog, I was pretty sure they were hand-wrapping the bacon.
Dominguez smiled: “Yes, chef. Five hundred a day.”
Eric dove into the nachos and after a few bites announced, “Anyone can squirt that awful pump cheese on chips and call it a day. These are the real deal.”
“I’d much rather do five things very well than 20 things poorly,” he said.
It’s that attitude that makes our town, our stadium, our Greenville a great place to live in — and to take in an occasional baseball game.
“City Juice” is a colloquial term for a glass of tap water served at a diner.
John Malik is a culinary adviser and broker with National Restaurant Properties. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.