- The Washington Times - Monday, April 11, 2005

Veggie dogs and chardonnay are in. Cotton candy and lemonade are out.

The veggie dog and three types of wine, with more traditional baseball fare like hot dogs, soft pretzels, soda and beer, will be sold in the booths and portable stands throughout Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium for the Washington Nationals’ home opener Thursday night.

Notable absences from the 33-item menu include cotton candy and lemonade. Crab cakes, which were sold during the April 3 exhibition game against the New York Mets, will not be sold for general concessions at the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The veggie dog, which is made of soy, wheat and egg, costs $4, the same price as a regular hot dog.

Beer will range from $5 for a regular draft beer to $6.50 for a micro draft. Small bottles of chardonnay, cabernet and white zinfandel will cost $7 each.

Aramark Corp., the Philadelphia food-services company that runs the concessions at RFK Stadium, put the vegetarian item on the menu after lobbying efforts from a Berkeley, Calif., vegetarian-advocacy group called Soy Happy.

Johanna McCloy, who heads the group, said she has worked with 10 other Major League Baseball (MLB) stadiums since 2000 to get the veggie dog on their menus.

Ms. McCloy said she is seeing a change in the character of stadium concessions.

“There is this old view that greasy fare sells and people expect it,” she said. “And those items are great, but more fans are aware of nutritional content in food and they want healthier items.”

But fans at RFK Stadium will have no way of measuring the fat grams and calories of the nachos and the super dog.

Aramark does not post or direct consumers to nutritional information for food sold at any of the 11 MLB stadiums where it has a concessions contract.

Spokesman David Freireich said there has not been a demand from patrons for menu labeling or brochures.

“Most fans have a pretty good idea what to expect in terms of available food when going to the stadium,” Mr. Freireich said, adding that Aramark would consider offering nutritional information if customers started asking for it.

The menu for the first MLB game in Washington in 34 years is less than half of the stadium menu offered at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, where Aramark also handles the food concessions.

“I refer to [the RFK Stadium menu] as a phasing-in plan,” said Rob Sunday, Aramark’s general manager for RFK Stadium.

Fans will not be allowed to bring their own food or drink into the stadium.

Mr. Sunday said he expects more items, especially ethnic foods, to be added as the season progresses and as Aramark forms more partnerships with local restaurants.

“We’ll be looking at the traffic flow and see where people go,” to determine which items stay or go, he said.

Mr. Sunday said he is negotiating with local eateries to sell burritos and barbecue. But he said he did not know when the food, with the missing cotton candy and lemonade, would make its way to the concession stands.

One obstacle has been the kitchen renovations at RFK Stadium. Construction workers were busy finishing the renovations over the weekend as Mr. Sunday and other Aramark employees started preparing for Thursday’s game.

The stadium has more than 130 food stands and venues, with about 1,000 Aramark workers expected to feed the estimated 43,000 fans at the game, Mr. Sunday said.

Aramark estimated RFK Stadium will serve 15,000 hot dogs, 15,000 chicken tenders, 8,000 pretzels, 5,000 bottles of water, 4,000 gallons of soda, 3,000 pounds of french fries and 2,800 bags of peanuts at Thursday night’s game.

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