Jul 29, 2023 16 min read

Giants Oust Patriots - AGAIN!

Stadiums and arenas are transforming the guest experience with innovative features like convenient self-pour beverage walls, mobile ordering, and pickup pods.
Giants Oust Patriots - AGAIN!
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Friends of Branded!

Happy Saturday and I hope everyone had a great week!

Okay, so I fully admit that the headline and photos might have been a little misleading with respect to the Top of the Fold section but stick with me friends. It will all work out, even for the Pats fans!

It was NOT the New York Giants that “ousted” the New England Patriots this past weekend, but I will say that MetLife Stadium (where the Giants play), in one very specific way, did handily beat Gillette Stadium (where the Patriots play).

In full disclosure, I decided to hold my very own concert “sound-off” competition where I put these two stadiums against one another in the battle of their audio systems!

In all fairness to my friends and neighbors from the northeast, if this competition was about, for example, the area immediately surrounding the respective stadiums with a focus on the available options for food, beverage and lodging or the overall vibe surrounding the venue, Gillette crushes MetLife, but alas, such was NOT the competition (don’t hate the players, hate the game). 😊

I can also add, out of respect for my Wes U crew from 100 miles on the other side of the second widest Main Street in the USA, that if the competition was about costs to build the stadium, again, Gillette Stadium, at $325mm does some serious whooping of MetLife Stadium, which was constructed at a cool price tag of $1.6bn, the most expensive stadium ever built at the time (2010) anywhere in the US. And just for fun and in an effort to be current, SoFi Stadium, home of the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers, is now THE most expensive NFL stadium ever built at a price tag of $4.9bn.

But I digress, this is exclusively a concert “sound-off” contest!

To properly set the stage (pun intended), over in New York (or New Jersey where MetLife Stadium resides), we had the Ed Sheeran concert (wonderfully sponsored by Branded's friends at PepsiCo and their Pepsi Concert Series). In Massachusetts and specifically in Foxborough (where Gillette Stadium resides), we had the Luke Combs concert.

In full transparency, exactly how much attribution of the quality of the audio system should be allocated to the stadium operators as opposed to the artists and their production companies is still something I’m investigating. However, my position is that since I’m playing the role of the referee, I’m going by the same standards that guests allocate to the restaurant that a food delivery comes from as opposed to the delivery company that makes the drop-off. In the food delivery game, it’s the restaurants that get the credit or the blackeye for everything and anything that goes right or wrong for a delivery order. Since perfection is the standard level of expectations, I’ll share that at times, the delivery driver may have been slow to pick-up the food from the venue, the driver may have even canceled on the pick-up and forced the restaurant operator to source a replacement driver, but when you order from a restaurant, you’re ordering the restaurant’s food.

So in this concert “sound-off,” I decided I would allocate 100% of the credit or blame to the stadium owner / operator. I went to MetLife Stadium and Gillette Stadium to see and hear these two great performers. It’s MetLife and Gillette’s name that appears on the top of these respective stadiums, so it’s the operators that are getting the credit or the blame for my guest experience.

To be clear, both shows were tremendous, and I can’t recommend going to either an Ed Sheeran or Luke Combs concert more. Music is of course a personal thing and I feel very fortunate to have seen both great artists perform.

The Luke Combs concert was last Saturday night and the show that featured Riley Green and Cooper Massengill.

Luke was AWESOME and his awards for Entertainer of the Year at the CMA in both 2021 & 2022 are in good hands with Mr. Combs. Riley Green is cut straight out of casting if you need someone to play the role of a country superstar and Mr. Green can still throw a football with both distance and a tight spiral. With respect to young Mr. Cooper Massengill, if you don’t know Cooper, please give the above link with his name on it a click. There’s a reason over 80,000 fans were chanting his name on Saturday night and Coop rose to the occasion and delivered with the chorus of Fast Cars when Luke passed the microphone to him. You’re a good person Mr. Combs and I want to extend a heartfelt congratulations to Cooper!

Cooper & Luke

But the results are in, and the verdict on the sound system at Gillette Stadium is that it was pretty awful (and that’s as kind as I can be in my review). With the help of a few simple Google searches, it seems the Luke Combs concert wasn’t the first time the critics were unhappy with the sound system at Gillette Stadium (metallica-concert; coldplay-concert).

In this “sound-off” competition that I’ve created, MetLife Stadium secured the victory without a miracle catch of any kind (hello “open,” please meet “wound”). I can attest personally to having an absolutely incredible audio experience at the Ed Sheeran concert on Saturday June 10th. In the spirit of fairness, a few Google searches on this venue, it's clear that others have also had wonderful audio experiences at this venue, and it all seems quite intentional (please see here: MetLife Stadium Deploys Dante To Take Audio System Into the Future).

No. Branded has no position in Dante audio networking and Dante has no brand partnership with Branded in any way (but Dante, my contact information is easy to find if you’re interested). 😊

Pepsi & Ed Sheeran, Better Together

We’re now done with the “sound-off” competition and as a native New Yorker, I really used most of the above to poke and have a little fun with my friends from Massachusetts b/c let’s face it, Boston has kind of become “Title Town USA” lately and other than beating them in a self-proclaimed, self-created and self-judged sound system competition between our respective stadiums, I’ve got to go back to two Super Bowls to feel some glory of New York sports over Boston sports (but those were two really sweet Super Bowls, weren’t they?).

In all seriousness, the above was actually a precursor to a theme I do want to address and that is something both MetLife Stadium, Gillette Stadium and I believe the super vast majority stadiums & arenas are all dropping the ball (pun was intended) when it comes to the guest experience. I’m specifically talking about the food & beverage offerings and the experience these modern-day coliseums are making available for their guests!

The good news for stadium & arena owners is that for a myriad of reasons, the guest experience doesn’t need to be perfect for you to maintain fan-loyalty. In fact, the guest experience you offer only needs to be “passable” which is several notches below “good enough” and a notch or two above “failing” for fans to continue to show-up. Stadium & arena operators have the understandable advantage that the games on the field, court, pitch, ice are the key driver of attendance and that affords operators the luxury of not NEEDING to deliver a perfect or even “good enough” food and beverage experience.

I’ve written previously about the oversaturation of restaurants and the supply of eating options dwarfing the demand. With respect to sporting events, there’s scarcity value here created because of the capacity limitations of the venues and to some extent the price of admission. As a result, the only real competition the stadiums & arenas face is from venues that create a strong guest experience away from home and specifically away from the stadiums & arenas themselves.

For example, Tom's Watch Bar, has raised the bar (pun intended) for premium sports-watching experience.

Tom's Watch Bar

The only other competition or the choice fans to simply stay at home to enjoy the game and the affordability of flatscreen TVs has certainly helped improve these home-games (and by that, I mean games watched from the comfort of home).

I don’t want to suggest that live-event operators should raise their game when it comes to the food & beverage experience b/c it would be a nice thing for them to do. I’m telling them to do it b/c they will make more money (and as a bonus, their fans / guests will thank them for it). According to a 2022 article by the Sports Business Journal (“SBJ”), Stadiums make as much as $2mm per game on concessions, approximately $30 per fan in attendance. Research from Oracle Food and Beverage shows that fans would spend 42% more on concessions if the lines specifically were cut in half.

The percentage of sports fans that say they buy food & drink at a game at least occasionally, 94%! That makes food & beverage at live events a significant factoid in fan satisfaction and for stadium & arena revenue generation.

I’m Branded’s “Finance Guy,” so again with the help of the report from Oracle Food and Beverage, let me share a few factoids:

  • Nearly 30% of fans globally ranked being able to stay in their seats as the most important way to improve the food & beverage experience at the stadium, closely followed by faster transaction times.
  • Fans value their time at games (we should all value our time) and are willing to pay a premium for it. 59% of fans would spend more on food & beverage and 63% said they would use a self-service kiosk ordering.
  • 63% of fans globally are interested in joining a loyalty rewards program, but less than 3% actually participate in one.

You know who’s crushing it in the world of stadiums, Empower Field at Mile High. Research from USBettingReport.com ranked NFL stadiums according to the food experience and gave Mile High the bronze medal.

When concessions lines were cut in half at Empower Field, it saw a 34% increase in concessions revenues or $20mm annually. According to the USBetting report, Mile High was only beaten out by the Atlanta Falcons’ Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the Houston Texas’ NRG Stadium.

So if Mile High took 3rd place, why did I feature that stadium over the 1st and 2nd place stadiums winners? B/c according to the report, these gold & silver medal winning stadiums secured their respective victories by offering cheaper beer and hot dogs.

Long-time readers of the H^2 know that operators do NOT like discounting and as an active investor in emerging technology, I want to recognize Mile High for its embracement of innovation to improve its fan experience and strategy for additional revenue generation.

For those that like the idea of discounting as opposed to leverage technology, I’ve shared the most famous discount offer at a stadium gone wrong - June 4th, 1974, Cleveland Indians vs. Texas Rangers. This game even has its own Wikipedia page! Ten Cent Beer Night

So owners, operators, friends, if you want to increase the satisfaction of your fans, you can upgrade your guest experience with technology & innovation that is readily available or you can cheapen your prices. I’m a free-markets guy, so of course it’s your call, but if I had the keys to your stadium (and I promise to turn the lights off when I’m done for the night) I’d be upgrading the tech to earn a better place in the USbettingreport.com of the best NFL stadiums for foodies competition.

For those that don’t want to hit the link above, spoiler alert, MetLife ranked 17th while Gillette ranked 26th (in the competition of NFL Stadiums by Concessions).

I’m a giver, so with that in mind, please allow me to offer up a few helpful and I dare say straightforward moves for stadiums & arenas to raise their game!

· Owners - a self-pour beverage solution is your friend! You have a limited window to sell your beverages (and the margins on beverages are even stronger than the margin on popcorn!). PourMyBeer is the world leader in self-pour technology (and the system is liquid agnostic). The PourMyBeer system is all about reducing wait times, offering guests convenience and selling more beverages (please only consider this system if you believe reducing wait times, giving your guests greater convenience, and selling more beverages is your jam). But wait, there more! A self-pour system is labor-saving solution and is legal and compliant in every state in the union (so please don’t come back at me with any issues around the legality a self-serve system that can also be used for alcohol). All these benefits AND your guests will love the experience you’re giving them of taking care of themselves.

PourMyBeer's Arsenal of Tap Systems

· Owners - how your guests order & pay matters (to you and them)! Upgrade your POS to one that has created a unique and dedicated Mobile Ordering & Payment solution for stadiums and events. GoTab POS System helps operators handle more orders efficiently while improving the guest experience. Guests no longer need to rush to the concession stand to place an order. Each attendee can simply scan a QR code at their seat, submit their order and pay. Your staff can bring the order to them, or they can be directed to go pick their order up (more on this pick-up solution below). Group orders are even easier; GoTab’s unique Tab Control allows your guests to open a tab, share the tab with any or all members of their party, and all orders are “coursed” and organized to deliver together to all members of the party.

· Owners - waiting in lines is so pre-pandemic! Guest behaviors have changed forever because of the pandemic and there’s an easy, frictionless, and available solution to put an end to having your fans standing in lines. Pick-up pods by our friends at Minnow are here to help! Your fans don’t want to miss any of the action, and I know for a fact even the most social fans do NOT like long lines. Eliminate these lines by allowing your guests to order with their phones and where seat-delivery isn’t an option, let them pick-up their order from an easy-access pod. You’re saving your fan time and giving them a better experience. Respect!

I know what you’re thinking, so please allow me to give an important disclosure here. In full disclosure, I’ve enjoyed an adult libation with the founders of each of the above companies!

Okay okay, a fuller (and a more proper) disclosure, Branded is an enthusiastic stakeholder in each of the above companies and believe all of them are operator-centric!

The shoutouts are here to stay (at least until I’m convinced differently).

· Sustainability + emphasis on the bottom line remain key!

Branded’s friends and partners at Copia were recognized this week for its food recovery network and specifically how it offers its clients a fully automated food-waste tracking, prevention and redistribution platform, attacking waste from multiple angles.

The article from Restaurant Business is part of their premium subscription, but I’ve attached a link here and Branded does love this publication: Restaurant Tech-Companies want to make it easier be sustainable

The Branded team subscribes to the KISS Theory (Keep It Simple Schatzy) and so does Copia! According to CEO Kimberly Smith, simplicity and convenience were key considerations in the development of the technology. According to Ms. Smith, “[Copia’s] goal is to make it as simple as possible for businesses to do the right thing, and so, that carries over into our technology. We regularly talk about how convenience is a critical factor in supporting adoption for technologies like Copia.”

Copia client and fan, Jeff LaTulippe, SVP of growth and innovation at True Food Kitchen, described the company as similar to DoorDash or UberEats for food donations.

When a restaurant employee would like to make donation, they simply request a pick-up. The app then assigns a courier to pick up the order and deliver it to a local nonprofit.

According to Smith, Copia’s technology presents numerous benefits for foodservice operations. “We’re making a positive social impact for communities in need by diverting perfectly edible surplus food; we are reducing carbon emission offset, so Scope 3 emissions and also returning meaningful tax deduction, so there’s a financial ROI for the businesses that work with us as well,” she said. “It’s a win-win for everyone.”

Additionally, Copia has a 99.9% match rate, which means if a business has food to donate, Copia can nearly guarantee it will find a home for that food.

There’s a lot to cover below, so let’s get after it!

As always, it takes a village!


Answer also revealed at the end of the newsletter


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Data as of 7/28/2023


Google Quietly Sneaks Out a Business Profile Update that Restaurants Have Been Begging For!!

Google secretly rolled out a new feature that restaurants have been asking for.

As a restaurant marketing consultant with a long history working in local search I get asked ALL the time is about choosing which images show on your profile. I have given the same answers for nearly a decade now ... you can't.

You can upload photos and hopefully the best ones make it to the top and become your cover image.


That's right!! Google quietly in the background rolled out a new feature that not only allows you to upload a cover photo but for it to stay locked in. WUT!??!?

How long have marketers been asking for this!??!

Want the details on how to do it? Check out this article: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/google-quietly-sneaks-out-business-profile-update-have-ciancio/


*I help restaurants to build guest marketing programs.

*I help hospitality tech companies with lead generation and content marketing.

Need help? reach out: rev@brandedstrategic.net

Rev Ciancio

Branded Strategic, Head of Revenue Marketing



Hospitality Hangout


Hospitality Tech and F&B Innovation IN THE NEWS:

We love to highlight Food Service & Hospitality news, especially when it’s Partners & Friends making it!

And in other News…please see some of the stories that caught our attention and that we’re paying attention to. This week was loaded with headlines and news!!

ANSWER: 10% of the total U.S. workforce work in restaurants!


🔍 Got Questions? We've Got Answers! 🌟

Satisfy your thirst for knowledge? Look no further! It's time to dive into our brand-new segment: "Ask The Headline"! 🎉

📅 We'll be answering YOUR questions every week. And here's the best part: you can choose to stay anonymous or receive a fabulous shout-out when we feature your question!

That’s it for today!

See you next week, (about the) same bat-time, same bat-channel.

It takes a village!

Jimmy Frisch & Julia Suchocki
Branded Hospitality Ventures
jimmy@brandedstrategic.com & js@brandedstrategic.com
235 Park Ave South, 4th Fl | New York, NY 10003

Branded Hospitality Ventures ("Branded") is an investment and advisory platform at the intersection of food service, technology, innovation and capital. As experienced hospitality owners and operators, Branded brings value to its portfolio companies through investment, strategic counsel, and its deep industry expertise and connections.

Learn more about Branded here: Branded At-A-Glance July 2023

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