The VenuesNow Excellence in Concessions Awards are a chance to recognize outstanding individuals making concessions sell in your venue or organization — the changemakers in concessions who create memorable fan experiences.  VenuesNow continues to honor exceptional teams and executives in food and drink operations at sport, entertainment, fairs and meeting venues internationally.

Food for thought: Our annual for those who cooked up something new

It’s always uncertain where a fork in the road may lead, but a fork in the concourse generally means a concession stand is nearby. That’s good news for hungry fans, who have come to expect far more than a hot dog served with ketchup packets or a beer just like the six they have in the fridge at home.

Innovators in the industry work tirelessly to keep up with demand by creating new products, opening more inviting spaces and improving processes. Their work keeps us thinking about what will come next, and each October we honor some of the best for their ingenuity with the Excellence in Concessions Awards.

Readers created the nominee list for the five awards this year, and the VenuesNow editorial staff selected the winners. Reading the nominations was great fun, but you can rest assured that once the tech industry can supply all of us with “Star Trek”-style transporters, judging the Best New Menu Item category will be more enjoyable than ever.

But back to the present. Enjoy reading about this year’s winners, and bon appétit!
(Click on the links below to read full write-ups on this year’s honorees.)

ON THE MENU:

Best New Concept
Elevated Concessions Partners
Live Nation

Developed by Brian Siep, senior vice president of food and beverage; Andy Yates, West Coast director of food and beverage; and Brian Hart, director of premium food and beverage.

New Concept: Connecting the fans with the right brands

Best New Menu Item
Tumbleweed Burger
Isotopes Park, Albuquerque, N.M.

Ryan Curry, former assistant general manager/executive chef, Spectra Food Services & Hospitality at Isotopes Park.

New Menu Item: Red chile cotton candy ignites a ballpark hit

Best New/Refurbished Space in Food and Drink (This new award honors a concession stand or sit-down dining space that stands out for its unique design and its popularity with fans.) 
Marquee Club presented by Lexus
Fox Theatre, Atlanta

David Ploski, club manager, and Rob Chaffin, executive chef

New/Refurbished Space: Aiming high, all the way to the rooftop

Best Sustainability Initiative
Expanded Waste Diversion Efforts
SunTrust Park, Atlanta

Shawn Mattox, SunTrust Park vice president of operations, Delaware North Sportservice

Sustainability Initiative: Partnerships enhance greening of SunTrust Park

Best New Technology
Walk Thru Bru with Mashgin Express Self-Checkout
Aramark

Developed by Alicia Woznicki, Aramark vice president of design and development

New Technology: Breaking the bar code with artificial intelligence