Earlier this week we shared with you some of what we saw during our behind-the-scenes visit with the Carolina Hurricanes. With over 15 original concepts developed by VAB Catering, there is certainly no lack of creativity or variety of food options at Canes games. No matter where you are within the arena, there is something to pique your interest from savory to sweet. This handy guide will help you the next time you’re perusing for some good eats, but here are a few delectable morsels we witnessed while walking on the concourse prior to the puck drop.
Hungry before game time and wanting a sit-down, family-friendly option? The Arena Club Restaurant opens up two hours prior to the game, but reservations are heavily recommended so as to not miss out on all the tasty treats they have to offer! You can go the buffet dining experience or A La Carte Steakhouse Menu routes. The buffet experience is an underrated name for the quality and variety of items offered. Specific options rotate depending on the night, but there are always choices of vegetables, pasta or similar starch, protein with accoutrement, an impressive carving station and action station of a sautéed dish. Tonight’s offerings included grilled vegetables, slow-cooked smoky BBQ ribs with chile corn fritters, parmesan potato wedges, pan-fried caprese chicken, spinach and feta stuffed mushrooms and coastal Carolina crab cakes. Talk about impressive! Along with the buffet, a salad bar, dessert and non-alcoholic beverage is included for the incredible price of $32.95. The A La Carte Steakhouse Menu is just as it sounds – various cuts of beef, standard steakhouse sides and vegetables individually priced.
The main and upper concourses open one hour prior to game time, so be sure to arrive on time in order to fully enjoy all the options available. Take a look at the amazing offerings and people behind making it happen for every game!
Sausage Stop stands found near Sections 105, 120 and 304
Sinfully Sinnamon stands found near Sections 110, 128 and 304
Sliced Pizza and Sub stands found near Sections 114 and 318
Dos Bandidos near Section 112
Twisted Waffle stands near Sections 116 and 322
The Carvery stands near Sections 104 and 123
General Stands near Sections 105, 109, 120, 123, 310 and 329
South Street Cheese Steaks near Sections 123 and 324
Market Place near Sections 126 and 314
The level of care translated over to the customer service end, too. The gluten-free options (beer, wraps for sandwiches) have become available due to customer request and the increasing number of dietary restrictions. Another instance was when one of the Chefs personally created and delivered a meal to a fan who had severe and strict dietary needs. These are just a couple of stories shared with me of the staff’s display of going above and beyond expectations, but I know there are countless more that end the same way; the Carolina Hurricanes care about their customers. Chris reiterated to me, “All you have to do is ask. We try our best to find an answer or solution to questions customers have for us. We work hard to keep relevant with food trends and needs so we can adjust and be able to help everyone enjoy the food and Canes experience. No matter where your seat is, we want to make sure every fan feels special.”
This elevated sense of customer service only continues to stay true for VAB Catering, Carolina Hurricanes and PNC Arena. Chris spoke of plans to expand the arena with ideas to reach all demographics from Millenials to families and everything in between. This includes lounge areas, a grand club, roof top bar and sushi concepts. These are all in the pipeline and more than a few years off from coming to fruition, but the excitement and demand is there. “We work hard to stay current with changes in both our community and profession. We listen to the feedback from our fans and what they want in an arena. It’s all about creating an experience for them, whatever that may be. We’ve made and will continue to make slow adaptations over time to continue to grow within the industry,” says Chris. This is obvious even in his attention to detail of the small things throughout the arena. They’ve transitioned menu and information boards to digital screens, so they can be updated remotely without the painstaking task of having to change prices, update menu items or information by hand with the little plastic letters and numbers. They’re slowly incorporating white tile backsplashes behind each concession stand to give a fresh, clean look. Food is cooked to order, offering a slight increase in wait time, but higher quality and satisfaction level. These are all the little things Chris and his team think about every day that make such a huge difference on the customer service end.
As my tour came to an end and the puck was about to drop, it all came together for me. Chris and his team are incredibly passionate people who genuinely care about what they do. No staff member goes unnoticed, whether it be a part-timer or a full-time worker. As we were walking around the arena, Chris knew every person’s name and everyone knew his name. This speaks volumes in so many ways. Oftentimes, a staff member can feel like a number, especially in such a large organization. However, it was clear Chris is an ever-present figure who manages and directs in a hands-on manner and is not just a guy in his office. This really sunk in with me because it was evident, in theory and in practice, that everyone matters no matter what.
Tessa Nguyen is a chef and registered dietitian working in the Triangle area. She is an alumna of Johnson & Wales University and Meredith College. When Tessa isn’t traveling and discovering new food spots, she teaches culinary nutrition cooking classes at Duke and works as a consultant in the health and wellness industry. You can follow her on Instagram or Twitter @
A big thank you to the Carolina Hurricanes for the complimentary tickets and for the invitation to tour the facility.