“I’ve been to stadiums and ballparks all over the country, and without a doubt I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Nats COO Andy Feffer, who spearheaded the project. “I think it will become the iconic, defining element of Nationals Park, the thing people leave and say, ‘Did you see that?’”
“They wanted to make a real village, and it feels like a real village,” said Union Square COO Jeff Flug, who was at Monday’s VIP opening of the space, in which I performed hard labor by tasting several of the offerings. “This isn’t your run-of-the-mill ballpark space.”
(Note: I took these awful photos with my phone; for a beautiful gallery, see JDLand.)
The employees are hired by Levy, which runs the concessions in the rest of the ballpark, but the managers are Union Square employees. (Some transferred down from New York, and others were hired locally.)
“This is really a big test for us, our first geographic expansion as a company,” Flug told me. “We needed a real partner for this, and [the Nationals] have been everything you could ask for.”
Also, I pretty much failed in my tasting duties, being a vegetarian, but I can say that I tasted at least one thing I’d have knocked over a small child to get — the “Elote Corn on the Cob” from El Verano Taqueria, which is brushed with mayo and grated Cojita cheese and dusted with cayenne.
I didn’t take a formal survey, either, but GM Mike Rizzo said he ate his ShackBurger in about four seconds, while radio hero Dave Jageler said the shakes and burgers were “both knockouts.”
“It’s taking all my willpower not to take about four more shakes and pound them,” he noted.
The Nats also announced that the Scoreboard Walk will offer $5 happy hour beer specials two-and-a-half hours before first pitch at all remaining home games.
Anyhow, on to the menus.
There is also fries and cheese fries, custard, and a New York dog, among other offerings.
I have no idea how these places will be received or whether they will become the iconic element of a ballpark that some people have accused of lacking one. I do know, however, that there will be a damn long line for Shake Shack when the Orioles come to town this weekend.