Adding fun, new concession stand items is an annual spring tradition at Blue Wahoos Stadium, but this year, the organization is thinking much, much bigger when it comes to food and drink
This season, the traditional hot dog and hamburger concession stands are gone — though you can still buy a hot dog and hamburger at the ball park — and have been replaced by four new restaurant-style storefronts and a bar behind home plate. The setup is befitting of an establishment on Palafox Street, and that was exactly the team's intention.
"We want folks to think and feel that these are actual, full-blown restaurants that you'd find downtown," said Jay Kudla, Wahoos vice president of food operations. "All of our menus are chef-driven, we've reverse-engineered everything. We've created this culinary palette and then figured out how to convert it to a baseball setting environment."
The four new restaurants — Casa de Kazoo, Wheelhouse Diner, Fish & Hits Pub, and Hook, Line & Sinker — each have their own distinct theme and menu. Employees at each storefront will even wear corresponding uniforms to make each experience unique.
"We're making the stadium more of a destination location," said Wahoos President Jonathan Griffin. "We wanted to take our customer service to another level."
Braised chicken and pork carnitas taco flights and fresh-pressed Cubano sandwiches are on the menu at Casa de Kazoo, which has a Don Tristan de Luna theme.
Wheelhouse is a baseball take on a 1950s diner. If you save enough stomach space after your grilled cheese dog — a jumbo hot dog wrapped inside a grilled cheese sandwich — perhaps you can tackle "The Deep Fried Elvis," a banana placed inside a deep fried hot dog bun spread with peanut butter, and topped with a sweet honey drizzle and powdered sugar. If there's still space, have a lemon or key lime milkshake.
Fish & Hits Pub is the new one-stop French fry shop at the stadium, offering three regional takes on America's favorite side. There are San Francisco garlic fries, New Orleans cajun fries and Detroit red hot & bleu fries. Wash them all down with an alcoholic specialty shake, comparable to a spiked Frosty.
"It's an Irish-infused whisky with a spin on the Pensacola Bushwhacker," Kudla said.
Hook, Line & Sinker is the seafood lovers storefront with top menu items that include the crab mac-n-cheese dog and calamari burger.
Bubba's Sandtrap, the stadium bar behind home plate, serves 20 craft beer selections, as well as signature drinks like the Fire & Ice cocktail — a frozen lemonade and fireball mixture with a cinnamon garnish on top.
"A pizza and tap room is the concept behind this," Kudal said of Bubba's Sandtrap. "And, to be honest, with this drink rail here at home plate, pretty much one of the best views in town if you're not upstairs looking out at the ocean."
Private reception and event guests, as well as Hancock Club ticket holders, will enjoy a specially revamped food spread and presentation. Menu items will evolve as they always have, but some examples include tapas, charcuterie boards, lump crab fondue with tri-color chips and green and red jalapenos, and open-faced tenderloin sandwich bites.
Desserts like chocolate mousse and deep-fried cheesecake tortilla triangles toasted with cinnamon sugar also await those looking for a sweet treat.
Dig in for the first time on April 10 when the Wahoos host the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp after a five-game series in Mobile, Alabama, to open the season.