Food company reports success at F1
Nov 21, 2012 (Austin American-Statesman - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The company responsible for providing most of the food and beverage service during last weekend's Formula One race at Circuit of the Americas reports the event went well overall, but that there were some shortages.
More than 117,000 fans attended the U.S. Grand Prix on Sunday, but food and beverage services partner Sodexo had to stock enough goods to handle the crowds on all three days, which circuit organizers said was about 265,000.
The demand started heavy on Friday and built through the weekend, pressuring the sales of food and drink.
"The crowds and the overall event exceeded our expectations," said Martin Thorson, vice president of sports and entertainment for Sodexo.
"Even though the various crowds challenged us to get around the track, we were able to persevere and pull off an event. That, overall, is a success for us."
Thorson said he was pleased with how service flowed overall, and specifically mentioned people on foot selling water, beer and other beverages around the sprawling site.
He said employees were able to meet the demands not only of large crowds but individual needs as well, including setting up a bar at the top of the observation tower in 15 minutes Sunday night so a guest could propose to his girlfriend.
"We certainly felt there were many different great successes throughout the entire event," he said.
But he also acknowledged problems, including vendors running out of goods. He said that moving products and people through the large crowds was a challenge and that demand in some areas was higher than anticipated because it was the first event.
"We always had product and always had product going to them, and our nighttime redistribution went flawlessly," Thorson said. "It was more about a large crowd isolating off an area, consuming everything at that stand and not being able to get to it for a half hour or so."
Circuit President Steve Sexton said, "There's always going to be room for improvement in terms of placement of food and beverage locations related to amenities."
About 1,200 people worked at food and beverage kiosks and high-end catered tents and luxury suites throughout the property. Jobs ranged from chefs to dishwashers to waitstaff, bartenders and kiosk workers.
Some kiosks were operated by Sodexo employees while others were staffed by volunteers from local nonprofits, Thorson said. And while most of the food and drink selection came from Sodexo, local food trailers were on the grounds as well as local restaurants such as the Salt Lick and Gatti's Pizza.
Sodexo will consider adding more local food options for future events, Thorson said.
"We certainly want to continue to look at local community business and determine what is the best mix of that," he said.
Thorson also anticipated using more portable vending -- golf carts loaded with beverages and snack food -- at future events because of their maneuverability, Thorson said.
The company has donated "a significant quantity of food" to the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas, Thorson said.
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