Opening day has come and gone, and the AAA affiliated, minor league Durham Bulls are back in action. Dave Levey, Director of Food & Beverage of Bull City Hospitality, runs a tight ship in making sure all items are ready to go once the gates open up prior to the first pitch. His food service team work hard to make sure game-goers are satisfied with their experience no matter where they purchase food throughout the park. This spans from the concession stands around the main concourse, private suites, the club restaurant and private events.
Dave has been with Bull City Hospitality for two years, but has extensive experience working at many venues across the country including sports arenas and even the Kennedy Space Center. His journey into hospitality began in college when his fraternity had the opportunity to raise money by working at the Packers football games. He and his fellow fraternity brothers worked a food stand and learned through trial and error how to make sure all their food items were prepared and ready for the duration of the game. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Stout, Dave went through management training and moved every two years or so working with every sport.
Years and many sports seasons later, Dave had the opportunity to move to the Triangle and work with the Durham Bulls. Dave says he enjoys minor league baseball because, “It gave me a chance to settle down with my family. It was important we were able to live in a city where we could enjoy spending more time together while still being motivated and challenged with work.”
I shadowed Dave as he went through his game day routine including meetings with other departments, repairing equipment, checking on the kitchens and most importantly – maintaining quality control of the food products. This was my favorite part, of course! We walked through a series of underground hallways until we arrived at the main concourse of the field. Bull City Hospitality, Dave says, “strives to do the best with the staff and skills we have. However, we want the best products to be served on game day. If that means having outside vendors at a few stands to fill a need of our market, then that’s what we do. Moe’s, Makus Empanadas, and Rita’s Italian Ice are a couple of concepts who create great, consistent product for us. That’s more important to us than putting out an inferior product just to say we can make it in house.”
New to the stadium this year is Bull City Hospitality’s partnership with Angus Barn. As one of the area’s leaders in producing great steakhouse favorites, Angus Barn wanted to offer a ballpark menu item that would add to the American experience of attending a baseball game. Fans won’t be disappointed with this over-the-top sandwich consisting of tender prime rib, sautéed onions and peppers, creamy horseradish sauce and cheese sauce all on a soft hoagie roll. Prepare to share this sandwich, as there are so many other delicious treats to partake in around the park and the sheer size of the sandwich is too much for any hungry fan to take on alone.
One of the outside concepts that is an attraction in and of itself at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park is Bull Durham Beer Company. This is the first microbrewery in a baseball stadium in the nation. The beer is made on site and you can purchase it throughout the stadium, but it’s cooler when you get a cold one poured for you right outside the glass windows of the brewery. Speaking to Bull City Hospitality’s desire to stay relevant with modern industry technology, they utilize bottom-filled beer cups that pour a “perfect pour,” all at the touch of a button.
For those who have seats in a suite or in the club, the club restaurant features a rotating menu of dishes inspired by Chef Curtis Wong and his culinary staff. Today’s menu choices ranged from three types of sausage, vegetable crudité bar, build your own salad station, smoked ribs, southern greens and field peas and even decadent pecan bars to end your meal on a sweet note. The ribs were perfectly smoked and juicy, I can only hope to eat these again at a future game!
Bull City Hospitality has implemented Homestand Specials throughout their general concession stand menus, too. A homestand in baseball is when a team plays at home against a visiting team for several games in a row. Dirt was the Homestand Special for this game. This favorite Southern dessert consisted of layers of crushed Oreos, vanilla pudding, chocolate pudding, gummy worms and topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream. Perfect for adults and kids, alike. The second best part of getting the Homestand Special is the souvenir Durham Bulls mason jar you get to take home afterwards!
After hours of walking around, building up our appetite and working for our treats, Dave says every game day continues to be thrilling for him. “When the gates open and we start serving the people, that’s when the magic happens. We’re worked all day to get to that point, so it’s exciting when we finally reach that time.” Dave also says he enjoys being at the employee gate before a shift so he can touch base with the employees and see firsthand if there are any issues that need to be addressed before the game starts. Keeping his ear to the ground is one of many things that helps Dave and the entire Bull City Hospitality team continue to make Durham Bulls games fun and successful for all the fans. Come on out this season to experience America’s game and bite into some of the best game day eats here in the Triangle!
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 @