The Spokane Parks and Recreation department has selected a Minneapolis-based catering and food-service company to handle the food and beverage operations at city parks.
Garrett Jones, director of the city’s Parks and Recreation, says Lancer Hospitality was awarded an exclusive three-year contract valued at more than $500,000 to operate and staff the Sky Ribbon Café, the Dwight Merkel Sports Complex, the Manito Park Bench Cafe, and the Pavilion at Riverfront.
The contract is based on percentages of revenue, Jones says. Lancer will receive 11% of concessions revenue, 14% of catering revenue, and 15% to 20% of revenue for Pavilion events, depending on overall revenue of the event.
Jones says Parks wanted to contract food services to a company that could handle the demands of larger events—the Pavilion, for example, has 13 summer concerts scheduled—as well as typical day-to-day order volumes.
“One of our goals is to retain that operational consistency and oversight given that the seasonal changes—the ramp-ups and ramp-downs—happen quickly,” Jones says. “An organization like Lancer can do that.”
The city of Spokane had previously acted as its own food service provider, Jones says. Discharging the risks of handling food and beverages was another appealing aspect of contracting with Lancer, he says.
“We’re experts in parks and recreation. Now we’re partnering with experts in the food industry,” Jones says.
Morgan Bedore, vice president of marketing and creativity for Lancer Hospitality, says the company has taken over operations at the Manito Park Bench Cafe, on the South Hill, and at the Sky Ribbon Cafe, downtown.
“Park Bench Cafe is open, and we’re partnering with Roast House Coffee, a great local roaster, for our beans,” Bedore says. “Lancer really leans into local sourcing, local connections, and community engagement.”
The company also will staff and operate the Dwight Merkel Sports Complex snack bar in northwest Spokane, as well as food and beverage services for the renovated Pavilion at Riverfront, downtown.
In its vision to integrate into the community, Lancer will partner with local food trucks in addition to bringing in its own food trucks, Bedore asserts.
Lancer is hiring locally, Jones notes.
Jones says an initial contract was approved in March 2020, just as it was becoming clear that parks food service operations would not open for the summer. However, Parks and Recreation spent the year working with Lancer to plan for an eventual reopening of food and beverage services. Jones says Lancer also will provide some improvements, such as signage.
Lancer is owned by Charlotte, North Carolina-based Elior North America, a family of hospitality companies.
Lancer also operates food and beverage services at the Point Defiance Zoo, in Tacoma.
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