Brûlée Serving At The Met

Spectra-owned high-end catering group gets deal for historic theater in Philly

  • by Don Muret
  • Published: June 11, 2018

The Met Philly, shown in a rendering, is set to open in December. (Courtesy Brûlée Catering)

Editor's Note: This story has been updated since it was originally posted.

Live Nation has signed a multiyear deal with Brûlée Catering to provide food service for The Met Philly, a historic theater going through a $56 million renovation.

Brûlée, owned by Spectra, the Philadelphia facility services firm, is a high-end catering group that serves the city’s museums and other cultural attractions. It’s headed by chef Jean-Marie Lacroix, a James Beard Award winner, and longtime Aramark executive Jack O'Brien is the group's vice president of catering.

The 110-year-old building, originally called the Philadelphia Metropolitan Opera House, is situated on North Broad Street in downtown Philly. Built by Oscar Hammerstein I, the 110,000-square-foot venue takes up one full city block. It played host to opera for many years and later became a movie theater and a circus venue before falling into disarray. It most recently housed a local church.

Last year, Live Nation partnered with developer Eric Blumenfeld to resurrect the vintage theater. It’s among several restoration projects along North Broad Street that are part of a larger renaissance of the downtown Philly neighborhood, according to O’Brien.

“It’s gigantic, with incredible sightlines,” O’Brien said. “In other cities, many of these historic theaters lapsed into disrepair and were torn down. This one is so big you can do receptions for 5,000 people. We’ll work with major conventions to do opening sessions.” The Pennsylvania Convention Center is just a few blocks south of the site.

The building has multiple rooms apart from the main performance hall, and as a result, Brûlée has the ability to serve food and drink for multiple private groups attending a single event, O’Brien said.

The stage itself, which fronts a performance space with 3,500 fixed seats, could easily accommodate a catered meal for 400 people, he said. The upper levels include a VIP space on the second floor called the Grande Salle. The 4,500-square-foot lounge is designated for functions before, during and after events with seating, a large bar and food service. It sits behind the balcony and features an exclusive entrance, and premium tickets will likely be sold for that space, O’Brien said.

The two upper levels contain a mix of opera boxes and suites.

Whether it’s small or large groups, Brûlée Catering plans to work closely with Live Nation to customize its operation depending on the event. The vendor, under the direction of Lacroix, expects to partner with local chefs as part of the food program. There’s a strong culinary scene in Philly with a vibrant craft beer community and some microdistilleries, and bringing those flavors into the facility is essential, per Live Nation’s request, he said.

At the same time, Brûlée Catering could tone it down a bit by serving basic concessions fare for rock concerts. But patrons can still expect some flair with items such as authentic tacos and specialty burgers.

“We have the ability to be a chameleon,” O’Brien said. “It’s what Brûlée has always done, but take it to the next level and make it even better. That’s our mindset.”

One example is Brûlée Music and Food Experiences, a program with expanded options tied to concerts at The Met Philly. The first event under that brand is ballroom dancer Derek Hough, set for June 14, 2019. Patrons can expect a wide variety of food, music and cultural additions that highlight the artist. Sample items could include Brûlée’s version of the Crown Burger with Fry Sauce, Spectra officials said. It’s named after a fast-food restaurant in Salt Lake City in Hough’s home state of Utah.

Brûlée, founded in 2011, was acquired by Spectra last summer. The firm’s clients include the Museum of the American Revolution, Memorial Hall and the National Constitution Center.
The venue is set to reopen in December. At this point, the initial events have not been announced. Private events will kick off in January, O’Brien said.

AOS Architects, a local firm, designed the Met Philly redevelopment. The company specializes in preserving civic buildings and designing new structures on the campuses of colleges such as Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, Duke University and Southern Methodist University.

  • by Don Muret
  • Published: June 11, 2018