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Monday, September 07, 2009

Superstitious Fans Wonder: Is Ballpark Concessionaire Aramark bad for Baseball teams?

The experts at www.baseball-reference.com track a statistic called Pythagorean Win-Loss, the expected win-loss record based on the number of runs scored and allowed by the team. They also track Pythagorean Luck, the difference between the actual win-loss and the Pythagorean win-loss.

In a comparison between teams with home stadiums that use Aramark and teams with home stadiums that do not, Workers United found that non-Aramark teams’ average luck is .40 and Aramark teams’ average luck is -1.93.

At baseball stadiums and other job sites across North America, Aramark is violating the law and disregarding workers’ rights. For example, food service employees at Fenway Park in Boston won a $1.5 million dollar settlement of a class action lawsuit this July that accused Aramark of pocketing their tips and service charges. Elsewhere, Aramark is unlawfully withholding workers’ union dues at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia, PNC Park in Pittsburgh, and Coors Field in Colorado.

Jorge Luis Bourjos (Walewander) Posted: September 07, 2009 at 06:04 PM | 0 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: business

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   1. Maury Brown Posted: September 05, 2009 at 09:08 PM (#3315484)
Got this press release and immediately thought it was the best use of backdoor propaganda ever created.
   2. Jeff K. Posted: September 05, 2009 at 09:11 PM (#3315487)
Got this press release and immediately thought it was the best use of backdoor propaganda ever created.

You seem to forget "Rumpshaker".
   3. Jeff K. Posted: September 05, 2009 at 09:13 PM (#3315488)
You know, considering this is (slight exaggeration) basically the entirety of the process used to determine manager influence, this would be an excellent jumping off point/example for someone writing an article on the appearance of correlation where there is none.
   4. The District Attorney Posted: September 05, 2009 at 09:24 PM (#3315490)
Any theory that Aramark is "unlucky" is completely destroyed by the fact that, if I'm not mistaken, the Mets dropped them this year.

(But g?ddamn, is the food ever better.)
   5. Jeff K. Posted: September 05, 2009 at 09:35 PM (#3315498)
According to the article the Mets are an Aramark team. I know because I wondered how much they had to do with the overall, but then realized since we're talking Pythag, their "bad luck" (I think of it as karmic retribution) wouldn't be captured.
   6. Lassus Posted: September 05, 2009 at 10:22 PM (#3315523)
Aramark provided the food service at my college. They are indeed bad.
   7. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: September 05, 2009 at 10:23 PM (#3315524)
The Pirates use Aramark. I don't know about bad luck, but they got called out in the local news recently for being filthy and disgusting. Rats, roaches, bacterial contamination, you name it. The only food place at the stadium that didn't fail is one that was closed and thus unavailable for testing.
   8. Jeff K. Posted: September 05, 2009 at 10:32 PM (#3315528)
Meh, food stands are notorious for that. When I worked at Six Flags, I worked in catering, so we had our own building off on the edge of the grounds. But the stands inside the park, basically to a one, were gross. Even with a health inspector dedicated full-time to the park, a plurality (if not majority) of them would have major violations (and not just one) every go-round.

I'm more concerned with the unlawful redistribution of tip income and holding union dues the article accuses them of.
   9. Der-K's emotional investment is way up Posted: September 05, 2009 at 10:48 PM (#3315535)
aramark sucks.
   10. McCoy Posted: September 06, 2009 at 01:40 AM (#3315570)
Aramark caters to a wide range of clients and the quality of their goods is based largely on how much their client wishes to spend. Considering that most people wish to spend as little as possible feeding the masses and the masses themselves wish to spend as little as possible the quality of some of their outlets can be lacking but in all probability their level of quality is right in line with how much their client wishes to spend and how much their customers wish to spend.

Take for instance, college kids. They want a ton of food and they don't want to pay a lot for it. Then on top of that most of them are used to mommy and daddy catering to their every whim and picking up the tab when they were little tykes. Now they go off to college and want to spend 1.50 for 4 pounds of food and they also want to have non-ubiquitous fruits, vegetables, and other little doodads that tend not to come in 50 pound sacks. It just isn't happening. Something has to give. Furthermore unionized service industries are incredibly expensive to run and the vast majority people in this country are not used to paying the "real" for food upfront at the counter. They are used to paying for the cost of food through their taxes, charity, social programs, and so forth.

Full disclosure: My sister's husband's father is a VP at Aramark.



I see from the article that Aramark at Fenway got fined for some wrongdoing, small world I almost took a management job with them this summer.
   11. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: September 06, 2009 at 01:53 AM (#3315572)
Full disclosure: My sister's husband's father is a VP at Aramark.


My father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate is his boss.
   12. McCoy Posted: September 06, 2009 at 01:59 AM (#3315575)
Tell Fred I said hello and that he still owes me my putter that I let him borrow.


I guess I could have said my sister's father in law and it wouldn't come off all spacebally.
   13. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 06, 2009 at 02:11 AM (#3315580)
Aramark caters to a wide range of clients and the quality of their goods is based largely on how much their client wishes to spend. Considering that most people wish to spend as little as possible feeding the masses and the masses themselves wish to spend as little as possible the quality of some of their outlets can be lacking but in all probability their level of quality is right in line with how much their client wishes to spend and how much their customers wish to spend.
A short bus ride away, I can get a tasty banh mi for $3. I can get a perfectly solid burrito for $5.50. Or a good pizza for $11 that feeds two easily. All of these are served very quick, and fresh. Aramark in absolutely no way serves the highest possible quality of food for the price point. They don't even come close.
   14. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: September 06, 2009 at 02:20 AM (#3315582)
MCoA is correct. Aramark is an entity that gets exclusive rights to sell food for a certain period of time within a certain geographical area to a certain captive audience. This does not encourage quality.

Also I thought this was an amusing press release. I am pretty sure the people responsible would have written the same thing about Sodexho if the "statistics" indicated that teams using Sodexho had worse records. And why not?
   15. Rafael Bellylard: The Grinch of Orlando. Posted: September 06, 2009 at 02:34 AM (#3315585)
As far as I know (and I could be wrong), but Aramark only sells at entertainment venues (like ballpark and concert halls) and movie theatres.

A restaurant that served food with the quality/price that Aramark does wouldn't last 90 days in an open market.
   16. phatj Posted: September 06, 2009 at 02:36 AM (#3315586)
Aramark runs the cafeteria where I work, and the food is quite good. We have another location, leased space in an office complex. The cafeteria there is also Aramark, and everyone says it sucks.
   17. Jeff K. Posted: September 06, 2009 at 02:46 AM (#3315590)
Wait, Aramark runs college dining? I never considered that there would be schools that didn't do it themselves. I mean, there's Wendy's and Chik Fil-A and Taco Bell, et al, on the UT campus but cafeterias are run by Housing and Food.
   18. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: September 06, 2009 at 02:52 AM (#3315595)
Aramark doesn't run all colleges' cafeterias. Some schools use Sodexho.
   19. Mike Emeigh Posted: September 06, 2009 at 03:20 AM (#3315604)
The Pirates use Aramark.


Have for years. They took over in 1973, the first full year I was a vendor at TRS.

-- MWE
   20. Jeff K. Posted: September 06, 2009 at 03:36 AM (#3315605)
Aramark doesn't run all colleges' cafeterias. Some schools use Sodexho.

What percentage of schools use either one? Like I said, I thought every place ran their own, so I'm shocked to find out some don't. 10%? 20%?
   21. akrasian Posted: September 06, 2009 at 04:26 AM (#3315615)
Geez, I'm surprised that more than a few places run their own cafeterias still. Maybe very big schools do - but smaller ones had mostly gone to services a quarter century ago.

For all the complaints about Aramark - many deserved - running a college cafeteria is more demanding than many posters here think. A small restaurant can specialize in a few things, and if they don't please everybody, no big deal. If there's a wait during noon rush, not that big a deal. But that's a huge deal in a college cafeteria. If food is overly fatty in a restaurant - that just gets more customers. But if a college cafeteria doesn't make a special effort to make its food healthy by various standards, then they have to answer to multiple groups. So cafeterias need to have food always ready, have it be at least somewhat healthy, have a wide variety always ready, have it be inexpensive in large quantities, and be tasty too. If they meet that last standard by having easy to prepare but 800 calorie burritos, then they fail in the second standard. If they have healthier tasty burritos, they probably don't hit the price point easily - since they don't have the luxury of charging a buck and a half for 5 cents of soft drink syrup, at least for the majority of diners who are on meal plans.
   22. Tripon Posted: September 06, 2009 at 04:29 AM (#3315617)
I think UCI runs their own cafeteria.
   23. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: September 06, 2009 at 04:41 AM (#3315621)
Pretty sure Penn State ran their own cafeterias when I was there in the early part of this decade...
   24. Cooperstown Schtick Posted: September 06, 2009 at 04:58 AM (#3315627)
The name Aramark is practically Kramerica in reverse.
   25. Gainsay Posted: September 06, 2009 at 05:21 AM (#3315637)
I've always wondered why teams can't just sell kiosks to local catering companies and restaurants. It doesn't seem like it would be hard for a small scale operation to serve a couple hundred people a night while beating Aramark on both quality and price. Get a bunch of those and have a corporate style operation that handles the hot dogs and nachos.

Personally, I won't pay the inflated Aramark prices for their lousy quality. It's a big disincentive to actually go to the stadium. It makes sports bars a more appealing option.
   26. Harold can be a fun sponge Posted: September 06, 2009 at 05:45 AM (#3315642)
I've always wondered why teams can't just sell kiosks to local catering companies and restaurants. It doesn't seem like it would be hard for a small scale operation to serve a couple hundred people a night while beating Aramark on both quality and price. Get a bunch of those and have a corporate style operation that handles the hot dogs and nachos.

Sure, but would those local outfits pay the same amount (in aggregate) as an Aramark or Sodexho? A big part of the value of the contract is the monopoly on vending within the venue; if various retailers have to compete, then they're not going to pay as much for the right to be in there.

Managing a bunch of small contracts with local companies is also more work (and more risk, in terms of collecting on all the contracts) than one big contract with a huge corporation like Aramark.

Gainsay, I'd love if your idea came to fruition. But I can see why teams don't have the incentives to make it happen.
   27. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: September 06, 2009 at 05:50 AM (#3315646)
Aramark doesn't run all colleges' cafeterias. Some schools use Sodexho.

What percentage of schools use either one? Like I said, I thought every place ran their own, so I'm shocked to find out some don't. 10%? 20%?


RPI uses Sodexho.
   28. Jeff K. Posted: September 06, 2009 at 06:39 AM (#3315654)
Well, if the cost to run a hot dog stand outside the Met is $50k per month, $643k per year (with the monopoly area not all that big), I find it hard to believe a team couldn't get a couple of million renting to a passel of stands. What do they get from Aramark? I have zero idea.
   29. smileyy Posted: September 06, 2009 at 06:56 AM (#3315658)
Oberlin students (and students at many other colleges and universities) aren't so thrilled about having their food provided by leaders in the private prison industry.
   30. The District Attorney Posted: September 06, 2009 at 01:48 PM (#3315708)
According to the article the Mets are an Aramark team.
Whoops, my bad. Well, I guess they added enough fancy-schmancy options in Citi that I don't have to worry about how the hot dogs are anymore :)
   31. BDC Posted: September 06, 2009 at 02:07 PM (#3315711)
UT-Arlington's dining hall is an Aramark shop. But you can look all over their website and never learn that. The only brand name they use is "Real Food on Campus," which makes it sound like the cafeteria was taken over by a couple of moms and aunts of the various deans. Only when you Google "Real Food on Campus" do you learn that several dozen universities have the same brand at their dining halls. The food is just about edible, and to my mind seems to have slipped backwards considerably since the '08 economic downturn: a lot less fruit and veg., more trays of donuts and biscuits and Tater Tots.

By contrast, our faculty club is a one-man operation, and the chef is a genius. They carved a tiny kitchen for him out of what must have been the break room of our IT department at one point, and he does small-scale miracles there. Too small a concern for Aramark or its peers to elbow their way in.
   32. Rafael Bellylard: The Grinch of Orlando. Posted: September 06, 2009 at 02:49 PM (#3315720)
When I was at Chico State, Associated Students (student government) ran both the bookstore and campus food services. The food was actually quite good, and when certain specials were running, was better than half the restaurants in the campus area. Some days, people were coming from off campus to eat on campus.

During one rather contentious on-campus election, a slate from the Young Republican's Club ran and wanted to privatize campus food services, saying they could make more money. Fortunately, the butt-whipping the slate got kept us from having to deal with that.
   33. Gainsay Posted: September 06, 2009 at 03:00 PM (#3315727)
Sure, but would those local outfits pay the same amount (in aggregate) as an Aramark or Sodexho? A big part of the value of the contract is the monopoly on vending within the venue; if various retailers have to compete, then they're not going to pay as much for the right to be in there.

Managing a bunch of small contracts with local companies is also more work (and more risk, in terms of collecting on all the contracts) than one big contract with a huge corporation like Aramark.


That all makes sense. I just wonder whether the teams might not be better off giving up a little short term revenue in exchange for offering customers a better experience at the ballpark in order to build some more customer loyalty. In the markets that don't have lots of sellouts, they could probably be getting more families into the park by offering better value.
   34. TVerik - Dr. Velocity Posted: September 06, 2009 at 03:13 PM (#3315735)
My company has Flik. Overall, I wish the prices were more uniform (stuff that gets weighed like salads are crazy expensive, while other stuff is wallet-friendly), but that's complaints on the margin. They're pretty good, and a newspaper recently rated my company cafeteria as the "best restaurant in Bristol, CT". Might be an overstatement, but it's pretty close to true.
   35. The District Attorney Posted: September 06, 2009 at 03:16 PM (#3315738)
a newspaper recently rated my company cafeteria as the "best restaurant in Bristol, CT".
Wow, you work for Associated Spring??
   36. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: September 06, 2009 at 03:17 PM (#3315741)
Jeff:

I am surprised a Finance guy like yourself wouldn't realize that a college outsources anything and everything. No university employees. No payroll hassles. No workers comp which for kitchen staff is very real. Can always point the finger.

They just re-brand to keep the anti-corporate student whackos at bay.

Roll in a few retail chains like Starbucks and nobody is the wiser.

University food provding is a gold mine. (Ahem)
   37. Alex meets the threshold for granular review Posted: September 06, 2009 at 03:21 PM (#3315744)
I've always wondered why teams can't just sell kiosks to local catering companies and restaurants. It doesn't seem like it would be hard for a small scale operation to serve a couple hundred people a night while beating Aramark on both quality and price. Get a bunch of those and have a corporate style operation that handles the hot dogs and nachos.


Kauffmann Stadium features a Gates' BBQ booth. Probably the best part of going to a Royals' game.
   38. Answer Guy. Posted: September 06, 2009 at 03:22 PM (#3315745)
Last time I checked, Dartmouth outsources almost nothing. But they have the wealth of Croesus so they can get away with that. Their dining halls are also leaps and bounds above every other college dining hall I have ever been to.
   39. Answer Guy. Posted: September 06, 2009 at 03:26 PM (#3315749)
In the markets that don't have lots of sellouts, they could probably be getting more families into the park by offering better value.


I've wondered the same thing, but children are sort of a captive audience. They don't have a lot of impulse control over when they get hungry. As a single guy I basically never eat anything at ballparks anymore and limit myself to one beer (if I'm not driving) or one soft drink (if I am driving.) The food is a ripoff and I can get something better and much cheaper outside either before or after tha game at most places.
   40. McCoy Posted: September 07, 2009 at 12:30 AM (#3315949)
A short bus ride away, I can get a tasty banh mi for $3. I can get a perfectly solid burrito for $5.50. Or a good pizza for $11 that feeds two easily. All of these are served very quick, and fresh. Aramark in absolutely no way serves the highest possible quality of food for the price point. They don't even come close.

And the people providing you that delicious food probably get paid close to minimum wage as possible with no benefits to speak of.
   41. Rafael Bellylard: The Grinch of Orlando. Posted: September 07, 2009 at 12:36 AM (#3315950)
And the people providing you that delicious food probably get paid close to minimum wage as possible with no benefits to speak of.


And the people working the same jobs for Aramark are making union-level wages?
   42. McCoy Posted: September 07, 2009 at 12:37 AM (#3315951)
If parks lease their space to mom and pops and local food service providers the prices won't be any cheaper than they are now. Anyone leasing a spot still has to deal with a high lease and they still are going to charge a chunk of money for their food. The majority of ballpark food has to be quick and easy to produce, involving very few steps and doing it all in a small space. Those problems really limit the amount of things a consession stand can do and do well in a fast amount of time.
   43. McCoy Posted: September 07, 2009 at 12:37 AM (#3315952)
Since this was a double post I guess I'll share more.

On a sidenote working in the college eatery sector is a pretty good paying job. About 10 years ago I had a buddy get a sous chef job at UPenn. He got 50k, health insurance, 401k, weekends off, and a huge amount of vacation time. Spring break, Christmas break, parts of summer and so forth. I think once you add up all the vacation days it was something like 50k for 9 months or so of work. And it was ridiculously easy compare to the 4 star cooking he left behind. Only problem was that about 2 years later his company lost the account and he was out of a job.
   44. McCoy Posted: September 07, 2009 at 12:44 AM (#3315953)
And the people working the same jobs for Aramark are making union-level wages?

I am almost certain that if Aramark is in MCoA work site that the people being employed by Aramark are unionized and if they are I can almost guarantee that Aramark spends more on their employees than whatever place he can get a good burrito for 5.50 and a pizza for $11.00.
   45. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: September 07, 2009 at 08:15 PM (#3316241)
The people employed by Aramark were certainly not unionized at Pomona College in the late 90s and early 00s. A lot of the lame-ass protest kids decided that that would be their cause of the week for a while. Chained themselves to the ####### administration building. Genius.
   46. Der-K's emotional investment is way up Posted: September 07, 2009 at 08:56 PM (#3316258)
Aramark caters to a wide range of clients and the quality of their goods is based largely on how much their client wishes to spend.

Oh, absolutely. Allow me to rephrase: the places I've eaten at which I've known to be run by Aramark (and there are many) have sucked.
   47. Mike Emeigh Posted: September 07, 2009 at 08:57 PM (#3316259)
If parks lease their space to mom and pops and local food service providers the prices won't be any cheaper than they are now. Anyone leasing a spot still has to deal with a high lease and they still are going to charge a chunk of money for their food.


Exactly. Airports are a good example - it's usually more expensive to eat at a chain restuarant inside the airport than it is to eat at the same chain outside the airport.

-- MWE
   48. Gaelan Posted: September 07, 2009 at 09:17 PM (#3316270)
Aramark runs the food court at my college. I can't imagine the immigrants working there make more than the immigrants working in all the other service sector jobs in the city. Their prices are more expensive but it isn't because they pay their workers.

What sent me on a personal boycott was they had a pretty decent stir fry offering and then they repackaged it with a newer nicer takeout box that coincidentlycut the portion size by a 1/3 without it appearing to be less food and then charged the same price. The deception aspect of it really pissed me off.
   49. Der-K's emotional investment is way up Posted: September 07, 2009 at 09:21 PM (#3316275)
Airports are a good example - it's usually more expensive to eat at a chain restuarant inside the airport than it is to eat at the same chain outside the airport.
Granted, they'd charge more anyway because they can ('cause your stuck at the airport) - but this is (I presume) a largely lease-driven phenomenon.
   50. McCoy Posted: September 07, 2009 at 09:43 PM (#3316286)
Aramark runs the food court at my college. I can't imagine the immigrants working there make more than the immigrants working in all the other service sector jobs in the city. Their prices are more expensive but it isn't because they pay their workers.

Aargh, lost a whole post. To sum it up. Non unionized places don't have to kick in for 401k's, are unlikely to have as good of a health benefits package or one at all, and can be understaffed as compared to unionized shops.

The biggest differences between union and non union isn't the dollars per hour they give their employees but in the benefits package each is offered and rules on who can do what work. For instance in many restaurants and hotels that are unionized a dishwasher cannot do a cook's work without the company having to pay for a lost shift to a cook. So not only do they pay the dishwasher his hourly rate but then they also have to kick in a full shift of pay to a person who wasn't even there. The same applies to managers, they are not allowed to do non-managers work. I can't bus a table, take an order, cook on the line, or cut a piece of fruit without risking a grievance. Mom and pop places don't have this worry and consequently they don't need to have as many people working.
   51. McCoy Posted: September 07, 2009 at 09:48 PM (#3316288)
Granted, they'd charge more anyway because they can ('cause your stuck at the airport) - but this is (I presume) a largely lease-driven phenomenon.

It isn't just a lease driven phenomenon. It also has to do with a closed environment, tax breaks for corporations, and business travelers. Travelers that have an expense account don't really care what the cost of their services are and corporations get to write off those expenses so those costly meals/rooms/liquor/what have you isn't as expensive to businesses as they are to the common person. Consequently businesses can charge more for a product knowing that a) their typical customer isn't going to care and b) the corporations after adjusting for everything is probably paying an amount of money for the item that one would find acceptable.

As for closed environment it isn't merely a matter of price gouging. You are paying for the convenience of having that shop that close and available to you. That convenience should cost you something.
   52. JimMusComp likes Billy Eppler.... Posted: September 07, 2009 at 10:26 PM (#3316308)
They are the new food-service company at the University where I teach. Not looking forward.
   53. Bernal Diaz has an angel on his shoulder Posted: September 07, 2009 at 10:27 PM (#3316309)
I have been working for several contract management companies for about 10 years now. Let me tell you, the big ones suck ass and the smaller ones are much much better to work for. As to self op vs contract I think higher ed is about 60/40, healthcare is about 80/20, B&I;is about 10/90 and secondary ed is about 99/1 percentages. I have done all three and prefer secondary ed, B&I;, Healthcare and colleges in that order. College foodservice is a pain in the ass.
   54. McCoy Posted: September 07, 2009 at 10:38 PM (#3316320)
Let me tell you, the big ones suck ass and the smaller ones are much much better to work for.

That is pretty much true in any field.
   55. Iwakuma Chameleon (jonathan) Posted: September 07, 2009 at 10:42 PM (#3316322)
Northeastern uses something called Chartwells.

http://www.dineoncampus.com/locations.cfm

Looks like their client list includes a lot of smaller colleges. I don't know anything about them, other than that the dining hall food I've had has been pretty decent compared to what I've had at other friends' schools.
   56. Your favorite TFTIO, me! Posted: September 07, 2009 at 10:43 PM (#3316324)
Aramark ran my college food system, and it was dreadful, just unbelievably dire. My current place of work runs the cafeteria directly, and it is heavenly. The food is thing I'll miss most.
   57. Bernal Diaz has an angel on his shoulder Posted: September 07, 2009 at 10:44 PM (#3316325)
Chartwells is the Education division of Compass Group.
   58. Der-K's emotional investment is way up Posted: September 07, 2009 at 10:57 PM (#3316332)
McCoy - what I meant by 'lease driven' was intended to account for the demand side as well - the airports know about business travelers, closed environment, etc... - they then charge accordingly (after all, they have a monopoly on offering spaces). The market to lease spots is competitive - therefore, you should see the profits largely go to the airport.
   59. Jeff K. Posted: September 07, 2009 at 11:38 PM (#3316350)
I am surprised a Finance guy like yourself wouldn't realize that a college outsources anything and everything. No university employees. No payroll hassles. No workers comp which for kitchen staff is very real. Can always point the finger.

Yeah, I wasn't precise with my language there. I'm not shocked that they outsource, I'm shocked to find that it's outsourced as much as it is and I was completely unaware.

If parks lease their space to mom and pops and local food service providers the prices won't be any cheaper than they are now. Anyone leasing a spot still has to deal with a high lease and they still are going to charge a chunk of money for their food.

My point about the vendors was directed more to the quality side, but it's completely your supposition that the price wouldn't go down. As is the case with mine, of course. But even with MWE's valid point about airports, the level doesn't rise to what you see in ballparks. One vendor and captive audience equals insanely expensive crap, see movie theaters and ballparks. Many vendors and captive audience equals expensive variety from crap (McDonald's) to good (Bergstrom has a Salt Lick for Christ's sake.)
   60. McCoy Posted: September 08, 2009 at 12:27 AM (#3316371)
Many vendors and captive audience equals expensive variety from crap (McDonald's) to good (Bergstrom has a Salt Lick for Christ's sake.)

True, the big boys are trying that out as well. Though often times unless you are a season ticket holder you don't have access to the good stuff and I don't see that changing with a different format.
   61. Sleepy was just “inspecting the bunker”, y’all Posted: September 08, 2009 at 04:29 AM (#3316465)
The people employed by Aramark were certainly not unionized at Pomona College in the late 90s and early 00s.


They are not unionized at a couple of large concert halls in southern CA, either. I've been handed pamphlets at a couple of places in LA the last few years as well, so I notice the name. The only one I can remember by heart is the "greek theater".
   62. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: September 08, 2009 at 05:09 AM (#3316477)
Nothing to do with Aramark, but food vending: I kept/'stole' a couple of my 'Sportservice' shirts from the old days vending, and even wore won during a high school golf meet. The only uniform requirement was a collared shirt and no denim. I had to vend that night, and had a match in the afternoon and it was a bet from the other team, that knew I vended. I showed up in that goofy multi colored mid 90s clown shirt with the tri-colored collar. Great move.
   63. bunyon Posted: September 08, 2009 at 10:36 AM (#3316522)
As others have said, Aramark makes exclusivity deals with entities so that they don't have to compete. The consumer doesn't get what they pay for. They pay a lot more than they would in a free market. The food here is crap and no one else is allowed to come in and serve. Aramark ends up charging high rates for what would otherwise be very cheap food.


The only argument in defense of Aramark is that they're just taking a good deal where they can. The real bad guy are the schools/businesses that allow a closed market.
   64. TVerik - Dr. Velocity Posted: September 08, 2009 at 11:45 AM (#3316531)
For instance in many restaurants and hotels that are unionized a dishwasher cannot do a cook's work without the company having to pay for a lost shift to a cook.


If you're a dishwasher and you really want to be a chef, doesn't this reduce opportunity?
   65. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 08, 2009 at 12:37 PM (#3316544)
If you're a dishwasher and you really want to be a chef, doesn't this reduce opportunity?

Sure, but unions have always been about protecting the "ins" at the expense of the "outs".

That's the whole principle of unions. Seniority based. Raise wages and benefits at the expense of less total employment. It is the same theory that drives unions to always prefer layoffs to wage reductions; as can be seen with hundreds of local government right now.
   66. McCoy Posted: September 08, 2009 at 01:06 PM (#3316555)
As others have said, Aramark makes exclusivity deals with entities so that they don't have to compete. The consumer doesn't get what they pay for. They pay a lot more than they would in a free market.

Except a school or a ballpark is never going to be a free market. Institutions don't want segments of their food service to be shuttered because they couldn't compete with the competition. That means two things, one the institution is not getting as much revenue as they could and two, their food service is not able to cater to everybody since part of their service is now closed.
   67. TVerik - Dr. Velocity Posted: September 08, 2009 at 01:08 PM (#3316559)
If only there were the "public option".
   68. villageidiom Posted: September 08, 2009 at 01:13 PM (#3316565)
They're pretty good, and a newspaper recently rated my company cafeteria as the "best restaurant in Bristol, CT". Might be an overstatement, but it's pretty close to true.
That's more likely a commentary on Bristol than it is on FLIK. And it's only true because Kizl's is just across the border.

Having said that, my employer is in the process of ditching Sodexho for FLIK, which is a particular brand from Compass Group. Chartwells (mentioned earlier) is also part of Compass. I'm optimistic.

- - - -

Where Aramark and others succeed are in two ways:

1. It's not simply a matter of providing crappy food at high prices, but rather providing a wide variety of crappy food at high prices. Although customers have high standards in general, every customer has low standards for at least one product offering. If Aramark throws 1,000 crappy products out there, each customer will find at least one of them to be acceptable.

2. For the leaseholder it involves one negotiation and a low chance of failure. It's far cheaper for the leaseholder to sign up one of the big concessionaires than to put together a lot of little pieces. It's even cheaper not to have to replace a small concessionaire mid-lease for whatever reason (nonpayment of rent, an unstable business that got in over their head, etc.).
   69. McCoy Posted: September 08, 2009 at 01:19 PM (#3316572)
Having said that, my employer is in the process of ditching Sodexho for FLIK, which is a particular brand from Compass Group. Chartwells (mentioned earlier) is also part of Compass. I'm optimistic

I interviewed for the Compass Group and it seems they are a better quality company than Aramark. I don't know about every venue but the ones I saw seemed to be targeting a higher level of customer so I don't know how they compare at say a college cafeteria level.
   70. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: September 08, 2009 at 01:20 PM (#3316574)
If I ran a ballpark, I would sign with Aramark, and also set aside a small percentage of space -- say 5%, for outside vendors at discount rates just to keep Aramark honest. If one of the side vendors goes out of business, no problem, as even if they all disappear I still have 95% of my concessions running. I would have one contract with the small holders at a flat rate that would be very inexpensive to make things simple.
   71. TVerik - Dr. Velocity Posted: September 08, 2009 at 01:24 PM (#3316576)
If I'm Aramark, Peaches, I'd freak out. I'm sure exclusivity is written into their standard contracts, and I wouldn't pay you the rights fees I otherwise would because I don't get a monopoly for my money.

I think that your idea, though it has merit for consumers, would mean that you leave significant money on the negotiating table, and for what upside? Somewhat better hot dogs?
   72. TVerik - Dr. Velocity Posted: September 08, 2009 at 01:31 PM (#3316579)
To return to the topic at hand, is there a selection bias to this? Does Aramark disproportionately submit the "lowest bid" and therefore is represented at venues at which the team is trying to save pennies?
   73. Zach Posted: September 08, 2009 at 01:39 PM (#3316588)
The people employed by Aramark were certainly not unionized at Pomona College in the late 90s and early 00s. A lot of the lame-ass protest kids decided that that would be their cause of the week for a while. Chained themselves to the ####### administration building. Genius.

I was at Mudd then! There was a multi year campaign to keep one of the colleges from developing an empty lot, too. The supply of protesters was completely unbalanced with the supply of causes.
   74. villageidiom Posted: September 08, 2009 at 02:14 PM (#3316623)
To return to the topic at hand, is there a selection bias to this? Does Aramark disproportionately submit the "lowest bid" and therefore is represented at venues at which the team is trying to save pennies?
Yes. Maybe. No. Well... one of those. From TFA:
The teams whose ballparks use Aramark are: the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Houston Astros, Oakland Athletics, Toronto Blue Jays, Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Red Sox, Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals, and Minnesota Twins
(Mets strikeout mine.) So, the Phillies, Red Sox, and Angels are Aramark teams. Are they pinching pennies? If you decide that use of Aramark is equivalent to pinching pennies, or that any team spending less than the Yankees is pinching pennies, then yes, by definition. If you think that some these teams are among the biggest spenders in general, then no. I don't think there's a solid conclusion here.
If I ran a ballpark, I would sign with Aramark, and also set aside a small percentage of space -- say 5%, for outside vendors at discount rates just to keep Aramark honest. If one of the side vendors goes out of business, no problem, as even if they all disappear I still have 95% of my concessions running. I would have one contract with the small holders at a flat rate that would be very inexpensive to make things simple.
AFAICT Aramark is still subjected to selling the "Official hot dog of the ________", etc. I'm sure they can charge whatever they feel is appropriate, and it's still up to them to cook the stuff. But there are some quality standards they are likely to uphold. A team could use this as a loophole to include outside vendors, or at least their products.

EDITed to add the last five words in the last paragraph.
   75. CraigK Posted: September 08, 2009 at 02:53 PM (#3316655)
Northeastern uses something called Chartwells.

http://www.dineoncampus.com/locations.cfm

Looks like their client list includes a lot of smaller colleges. I don't know anything about them, other than that the dining hall food I've had has been pretty decent compared to what I've had at other friends' schools


My school's Chartwells too. (U of A- Fayetteville)

Not terrible, and a huge variety; there's like 10 different places to eat.
   76. plim Posted: September 08, 2009 at 03:12 PM (#3316670)
I guess I could have said my sister's father in law and it wouldn't come off all spacebally.


david wright owns aramark!
   77. BK Arbour Posted: September 08, 2009 at 04:33 PM (#3316753)
The people employed by Aramark were certainly not unionized at Pomona College in the late 90s and early 00s. A lot of the lame-ass protest kids decided that that would be their cause of the week for a while. Chained themselves to the ####### administration building.


Progress. In 1993, protesters sat-in the admin building at Pomona because they didn't give a prof tenure. That the prof had never gotten her Ph.D. never seemed to bother the protestors. Bugged me then. Now that I'm an academic and a Ph.D., it really bugs me.
   78. Jeff K. Posted: September 08, 2009 at 05:17 PM (#3316786)
If Aramark throws 1,000 crappy products out there, each customer will find at least one of them to be acceptable.

Yeah, but if I'm Aramark, I'm wondering what these people want that they have "acceptably low standards" for. I'm already serving bargain basement food here. Nachos, hamburgers...

Not to mention, I eat more hot dogs than anybody over the age of 10 should think about, and I buy the cheapest brand I know of, Bar S, 89 cents for a package of 8. I still find Aramark's crap to be crap, and that's before they want $3 for one.
   79. RJ in TO Posted: September 08, 2009 at 05:20 PM (#3316787)
Not to mention, I eat more hot dogs than anybody over the age of 10 should think about, and I buy the cheapest brand I know of, Bar S, 89 cents for a package of 8.


What sort of meat are those even made of? I honestly had no idea (and was happier not knowing) that you could even get hot dogs that cheap.
   80. Der Komminsk-sar Posted: September 08, 2009 at 05:26 PM (#3316794)
I've seen Bar S - I thought they were, like, for pets or something.
   81. RJ in TO Posted: September 08, 2009 at 05:35 PM (#3316800)
They might be. At that price, the tag line should be "Bar S - For pets, from pets."
   82. villageidiom Posted: September 08, 2009 at 05:49 PM (#3316808)
Yeah, but if I'm Aramark, I'm wondering what these people want that they have "acceptably low standards" for. I'm already serving bargain basement food here. Nachos, hamburgers...
If you're Aramark you don't have to figure it out. Put out the 1,000 options, and let the customer figure it out. If all they sold was hot dogs and you thought their hot dogs were crap, you'd have no other options. If they sold 1,000 different options, you'd know to avoid the hot dogs, but surely there'd be something else you'd find not to be screwed up. (You won't like the price, but that's the monopoly thing.)

Not to mention, I eat more hot dogs than anybody over the age of 10 should think about, and I buy the cheapest brand I know of, Bar S, 89 cents for a package of 8. I still find Aramark's crap to be crap, and that's before they want $3 for one.
That goes toward the loophole I mentioned earlier. Kayem is the official hot dog of the Red Sox; the Fenway Frank is a Kayem product, cooked by Aramark. There are precious few ways one can screw up a boiled hot dog*, and AFAICT Aramark hasn't screwed it up yet. If it's crap, it's most likely not Aramark's fault (in the case of Fenway Franks, that is).

* I suppose one can argue that boiling a hot dog is inherently screwing it up. That's another story entirely.
   83. BDC Posted: September 08, 2009 at 05:49 PM (#3316809)
There's a new brand of cat food that looks an awful lot better than the tuna and sardines that I eat. Unfortunately it also costs a lot more than the tuna and sardines that I eat.
   84. Jeff K. Posted: September 08, 2009 at 05:50 PM (#3316811)
They might be. At that price, the tag line should be "Bar S - For pets, from pets."

Whatever. Just 'cause I'm not living high on moose knuckles, penguin, abominable snowman foot, and actual snowman gizzards...

Let's see, I'm at home right now, let's check the ol' ingredient list:

I have the beef version, jumbo size, which was $1.09 per package, and it's beef, water, corn syrup, salt, and then a bunch of stuff that's 2% or less. Chemicals.
   85. RJ in TO Posted: September 08, 2009 at 05:55 PM (#3316812)
Whatever. Just 'cause I'm not living high on moose knuckles, penguin, abominable snowman foot, and actual snowman gizzards...


Come on, we don't even have penguins up here, and the other three are rarities.

I have the beef version, jumbo size, which was $1.09 per package, and it's beef, water, corn syrup, salt, and then a bunch of stuff that's 2% or less. Chemicals.


Does it say Beef, or "Beef?" For some reason, based on the price, I'm reminded of that restaurant Norm used to frequent on Cheers, where you could get a bargain priced meal of Bef or Loobster (or The Simpsons contribution of Malk).
   86. BrianBrianson Posted: September 08, 2009 at 06:24 PM (#3316827)
What sort of meat are those even made of? I honestly had no idea (and was happier not knowing) that you could even get hot dogs that cheap.


Mechanically separated chicken. The cheapest hotdogs always are.
   87. MM1f Posted: September 08, 2009 at 06:34 PM (#3316834)
Not to mention, I eat more hot dogs than anybody over the age of 10 should think about, and I buy the cheapest brand I know of, Bar S, 89 cents for a package of 8. I still find Aramark's crap to be crap, and that's before they want $3 for one.

Bar S tastes like a sponge to me. Gwaltney's is 99 cents to maybe 1.29 and they are pretty tasty as far as cheap meat goes
   88. Jeff K. Posted: September 08, 2009 at 06:34 PM (#3316835)
Does it say Beef, or "Beef?"

No, it's beef. This isn't like malk, or Sorny.

Come on, we don't even have penguins up here, and the other three are rarities.

Right, that's why I said living high. The twigs and berries are for everyday Canadese nourishment.

Mechanically separated chicken.

Which I've never really understood, as I assume all chicken that is split up (so McNuggets all the way to drumsticks in the grocery store) is separated by a machine. Frankly, even if some is and some isn't, who cares?
   89. Jeff K. Posted: September 08, 2009 at 06:36 PM (#3316838)
Bar S tastes like a sponge to me. Gwaltney's is 99 cents to maybe 1.29 and they are pretty tasty as far as cheap meat goes

I've never heard of or seen Gwaltney's.

I'm resisting the "your mom" joke in re: the end of that post.
   90. RJ in TO Posted: September 08, 2009 at 06:38 PM (#3316839)
Which I've never really understood, as I assume all chicken that is split up (so McNuggets all the way to drumsticks in the grocery store) is separated by a machine. Frankly, even if some is and some isn't, who cares?


There's mechanically separated, as in cut by a machine, and there's mechanically separated, as in crap that's basically scraped from the bone after the other better meat has already been cut away. Cheap hot dogs are almost always the latter type of mechanically separated.
   91. bunyon Posted: September 08, 2009 at 06:44 PM (#3316845)
I'm resisting the "your mom" joke in re: the end of that post.


Because she isn't?
   92. SouthSideRyan Posted: September 08, 2009 at 06:49 PM (#3316850)
I lived on Bar S in college. They weren't bad. I want to say they're packaging says something like America's #1 Hot Dog, or some other completely unsubstantiated claim.
   93. RJ in TO Posted: September 08, 2009 at 06:53 PM (#3316853)
I want to say they're packaging says something like America's #1 Hot Dog


They make you pee?
   94. Jeff K. Posted: September 08, 2009 at 06:56 PM (#3316857)
Because she isn't?

No, it would have been something like "Ask your mom, she knows all about what cheap meat tastes like."
   95. MM1f Posted: September 08, 2009 at 07:02 PM (#3316865)
I want to say they're packaging says something like America's #1 Hot Dog, or some other completely unsubstantiated claim.

I mean, if they're 80 cents an 8-pack why WOULDN'T they outsell all the others?
   96. Brandon in MO (Yunitility Infielder) Posted: September 08, 2009 at 07:39 PM (#3316901)
my school used Sodexho for their cafeteria and sporting events

####### gouging
   97. BFFB Posted: September 08, 2009 at 07:45 PM (#3316911)
Hotdogs from packets/cans taste funny. Kind of like salty slimy unidentified meat product that's been squished into a test tube.

When I want a hotdog like thing tend to use either cumberland sausage or polish kabanos sausages
   98. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: September 08, 2009 at 07:53 PM (#3316921)
My school used Sodexho for their cafeteria and sporting events too. These college meal plans appeared to be the perfect business for profitability. The people who pay for the food (parents) never eat the food, and pay for it for at least one year without even considering what the food might consist of. The food is generally paid for months before it is eaten, so the customers take a really long time before they can respond to perceived low quality by taking their business elsewhere. And this is on top of the normal "captive audience" situation that we've discussed already.

The only problem is that a school cafeteria is not exactly something that can go off-line for weeks, so there's the threat of workers going on strike, but going on strike is illegal in the US so that doesn't really come up much.

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