UBS Arena, Elmont, NY: Behind The Dining Options

The UBS Arena design includes a number of spectacular club settings with delectable local food option curated by the Delaware North culinary team.
The UBS Arena design includes a number of spectacular club settings with delectable local food option curated by the Delaware North culinary team.

Blueprint floorplan floor plan restaurant kitchen renovation
Part of Total Food Service’s Blueprint Series on hot new restaurant kitchen renovations, new floor plans, and more.

It’s hard to gauge whether there is more excitement for the opening of UBS Arena or the hockey team that will call it home.

Both bring championship pedigrees with the New York Islanders known for their run of Stanley Cup championships in the 1980’s, and the concessionaire Delaware North known for its ability to create truly unique local food and beverage offerings.

With that in mind, Total Food Service set out to go behind the scenes of the food and beverage operation of this highly anticipated arena project on the Nassau/Queens border. 

UBS Arena has been designed for artists and concerts with input from Live Nation and is one of the only arenas in the world built specifically for hockey.
UBS Arena has been designed for artists and concerts with input from Live Nation and is one of the only arenas in the world built specifically for hockey.

Buffalo, NY based Delaware North has brought a fresh new approach to the “guest experience” at UBS Arena.

  • Simplot Frozen Avocado
  • Day & Nite
  • BelGioioso Burrata
  • T&S Brass Eversteel Pre-Rinse Units
  • AyrKing Mixstir
  • Inline Plastics Safe-T-Chef
  • Imperial Dade
  • McKee Foodservice
  • DAVO Sales Tax
  • RAK Porcelain

With Executive Chef Ted Donnelly at the helm, concessions in standard concourse areas, premium clubs, suites and VIP areas will be unlike anything ever seen before in a Metro New York or US arena project

With that in mind, Delaware North will source 75 percent of food ingredients from within a 300-mile radius based on seasonality and has partnered with local and regional vendors to source products that support New York State’s Taste NY initiative. 

To accomplish that local strategy, the building’s architect Populous worked closely with the kitchen consultant Duray/ JF Duncan and the equipment and supply dealer: Stafford Smith.

The goal of that collaboration was to create mini-commissaries and then finish stations within each concession stand to be able to execute each of the menus.

With that in mind the design team took a less is more approach with fewer items being offered in each concession stand.

Local branded highlights include:

  • The Harrison, the popular Floral Park eatery known for its scratch made dishes and cocktails, that has a major presence at an in-arena food hub, with its famous cheeseburgers and French fries being featured at three outlets in the general concessions area. 
  • Mighty Quinn’s BBQ, a fast growing, New York born barbeque concept, is offering its slow smoked brisket, burnt ends and pulled pork sandwich varieties as part of the general concessions lineup.
  • Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar, the famous dessert brand and company founded in Manhattan, will have a featured presence at UBS Arena with three concession outlets offering its popular Cereal Milk™ soft serve, among other signature treats.
  • Blue Line Deli & Bagels, whose flagship deli is located in Huntington, N.Y., is offering its iconic blue and orange bagels available at several of the market locations throughout the arena in addition to classic deli style sandwiches and specialty bagel sandwiches.
  • The Sausage King of New York has Italian sausage and other premium meat products available throughout concessions as well as in premium suites.

Populous has also brought a slightly different strategy from the design of traditional arena concessions: 12 market style outlets offer a mix of hot, fresh prepared food selections complemented by a variety of ready to go meals and self-serve snack and beverage options.

The markets use a streamlined checkout process, with mobile ordering and other cashless payment technology. 

UBS Arena clubs and suites will have a timeless design inspired by iconic New York bars and cocktail lounges, like the Verizon Lounge (above).
UBS Arena clubs and suites will have a timeless design inspired by iconic New York bars and cocktail lounges, like the Verizon Lounge (above).

These offerings include several food options, including street tacos, seafood, modern Chinese, Halal and sausages, a carving station and deli, as well as classics such as pizzas, cheesesteaks, chicken tenders, ice cream, burgers and pretzels.

Portable stands offer both food (popcorn, sushi, BBQ and nachos) and beverages (Vide canned cocktails, Ilegal Mezcal craft cocktails, Claffey Pop spiked seltzers and grab and go locations offering beer and other canned beverages).

The UBS Arena Dining Options Players:

  • Kevin Miller, Vice President of F&B, Sportservice, Delaware North, Buffalo, NY 
  • Geoff Johnson, GM of Clover Link and Bypass, Fiserv, Austin, TX,
  • Shawn Kelly, Project Manager, Stafford Smith, Kalamazoo, MI
  • Mark Newlin, President – Sports & Hospitality Group, Duray Duncan Industries, Littleton, CO
  • Kurt Admunson, Jason Carmello, Tracy Payne, Populous, Kansas City, MO

Kevin Miller’s Approach

At Delaware North, our goal at UBS is to capture the essence of  the great tastes of New York.

That includes both the regional and local flavors from a Shea’s Sausage and Pepper sandwich to a pizza. At UBS, we are using a market concept that we actually developed with Amazon.

We’re working with a couple of other providers in developing these “Just Walk Outs” where the guest selects their own food and beverage and then pays at a self service checkout.

This replaces the traditional counter operation, where you would place your order, and then the food would be rung out through a concession employee operating a POS.

We are convinced that this new system will enable us to ensure a higher quality product and minimize the checkout process. 

Manitowoc ice machines are the centerpiece of UBS new marketplace approach to concessions.
Manitowoc ice machines are the centerpiece of UBS new marketplace approach to concessions.

We all understand both the shortages and expense of labor.

The Marketplace approach at UBS has enabled us to  make major strides on trying to reduce staffing levels as guests become more acclimated to the mobile markets.

So the staffing is somewhat nominal, and we go forward, we expect it to reduce significantly.

We also know that today’s venue guest demands great food. There’s a lot of good [menu items]. There’s a shaved sausage and pepper sandwich.

The meatballs at UBS are fantastic and the pizza is outstanding. We actually do all the pizza from scratch inside the building.

Our approach to suite’s dining includes a dedicated suite kitchen. Whether at UBS or the new Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, our new buildings have a dedicated suite chef who runs that operation for us.

UBS also has a main kitchen in the belly of the building, and then the suite kitchen enables them to facilitate product to get  directly to  the suites. 

At Delaware North our team knows how to pour beer and mix a great cocktail. Our VPOs (Vice President of Operations) are tremendous operators.

At UBS Arena, our Bob Thormeier and his director of beverage have been involved in the bar designs so that whether it’s a short draw or long draw, we’re going to be able to make sure that we have the proper offerings for our guests.

UBS Arena Tailgate Bar
The UBS Arena features a spectacular “soccer stadium style” bar at the far end of the rink. Credit: Dennis DaSilva/UBS Arena

We are very excited about the 100 yard wide Tailgate Bar at UBS (above). These long bars that we have in many of our establishments are really popular with the guests.

They love the experience they come on up, they see all the alcohol behind it, and the beer offerings that we have. It’s like drawing a fly to a light. If you like to have a beverage at a sporting event, this is the way of the future. 

With so much focus on quality and safety, we have a way to keep beverages colder.  We’re huge fans of the Ball aluminum cup. It keeps our beverages colder.

We love the recyclability. We work hand in hand with Ball on ensuring that we try and recapture as many of these cups and we get them melted, so that they can be recycled.

The interesting piece about it is that the guests love the cup so much that they end up taking them home.

Geoff Johnson’s Approach

Contactless commerce is the future of foodservice, and UBS Arena is working with Clover to unlock the full potential of these contactless payment interactions.

Fans at UBS arena will have multiple options to order and pay for concessions, including mobile ordering from their seat, at a self-serve kiosk, or at traditional concession areas that enable touchless payments at the point-of-sale (such as using Apple Pay or Google Pay with their phone).

Clover from Fiserv is a complete business-management and point-of-sale platform enabling businesses to maximize their operating efficiencies and grow.

Clover is used by small businesses—including hundreds of thousands of small, independently owned restaurants, as well as by enterprise businesses such as sporting venues, to accept payments and manage their operations.

UBS Arena Eddie's Bar
The UBS Arena concourse houses multiple bars in which event guests can enjoy their favorite beverage and still have views of the stage or game.

Clover is in more than 50 major professional sporting venues, and more than 300 smaller venues across the U.S. In New York City this includes UBS Arena, Citi Field, and the Barclays Center, among others.

Additional notable venues include Fiserv Forum, home of the Milwaukee Bucks, and Stamford Bridge, home of Chelsea F.C. in the Premier League.

The pandemic has pushed greater consumer adoption of digital commerce.

For small business customers using Clover, this has meant enabling curbside pickup, mobile ordering, and delivery because those capabilities have been critical to staying open.

The pandemic has also led to business owners enabling more touchless payment options in store. All of these are capabilities Clover has expanded during the pandemic.

With our technology, UBS Arena will have detailed insights into what is being sold, which concessions stands are performing best, peak times for sales, and other detailed metrics consolidated across our platform.

This will help the venue understand how they need to adjust staffing levels at different concession stands, how they can best prep for peak times, and how to adjust their operations to deliver a better experience for Islanders fans. Ultimately, when UBS Arena optimizes its concessions, it allows fans to spend more time doing what they came to do – watching the game!

Mark Newlin’s Approach

Fans are going to get a different food and beverage experience, at the new UBS Arena, than the traditional concession stand experience that we’ve grown to know over the past 20+ years.

They’re going to see things being made right in front of them literally, within feet. It’s not going to be the traditional mystery box where you open up a piece of pizza and you have no idea what it’s going to look like.

Grab and Go Stations – Markets – Fresh Food Displays – Small Batch Cooking, and Self Service Soda Stations are all part of the experience.

EVO’s innovative cooking technology has enabled UBS to maximize the efficiency of their concession, club and suite dining operations.

A rather unique feature is that we have fifteen EVO grills throughout the building.

This is a four foot ventless grill that you can cook anything from stir fried beef, to hamburgers to steaks, and you can do it with the customer two feet away looking through a glass panel as it is being prepared for them.

UBS has a number of different seating, and amenity options for food and beverage. You want to just have a game day ticket and you sit in your seat and take in the concourse concessions.

If you want to notch it up a bit, you can get into a club – there are several different clubs with different amenities and different foodservice options to suit the fan experience that you are looking for.

There are also luxury suite and loge/club boxes that are a completely different experience as well.  

Duray has worked on a number of major league arenas throughout the country over the years and it is exciting to see new concepts, technologies, service styles, amenities, and fan experiences all come together in such a unique way here at UBS Arena.

Shawn Kelly’s Approach

Our goal was to follow the Duray design for the kitchens at UBS and obtain the highest quality equipment to meet the high volume demands of such a large facility.

I think the unique part of Stafford Smith is the ability to execute the jobs. And that’s done through the processes they have in place to allow us to execute the jobs in the fashion that’s needed.

It’s really because there’s processes in place that enable us to keep the train on the tracks and proceed down the road the way that we need to to make sure that we’re executing the job correctly.

RATIONAL combi oven
Rational’s combi technology is a key to support Delaware North’s innovative menus.

Stafford Smith has done previous projects with this team that’s on this project so you have that. And then on the other side of it, we’ve done a lot of work with Duray on the design side.

So I think it’s a nod from the two and we’ve also done projects with Populous. 

There’s a lot of ventless cooking on the project. I think obviously, the value of that ventless style appliance eliminates the need for the duct and the cost associated with the duct and the fan system.

The costs must offset installation of ductwork and the restrictions that they would run into in installing ducts.

I know that it’s a new construction and they’re very packed as far as the space there’s no additional space available so that probably led to the why. 

The thing that we’re learning on this job is just how to manage such a compressed schedule. And I think one of the causes of this schedule being so compressed is COVID.

So I mean that definitely impacted this project because the project was put on hold for a long time and that’s kind of been eye opening in the sense of having a project be put on hold then just jumping right back in it almost double time.

Architectural Insight: Tracy Payne’s Approach

So the majority of the food and beverage locations are markets. On the main concourse we have seven markets and on the upper concourse we have six.

The markets are a great offering from a design perspective because they’re mixing hot items that are served by staff with the grab-and-go, open, refrigerated, self-serve units sort of built into the front counter.

And then, some of the markets are featuring the open exhibit cooking or finishing at the front counter with the EVO grill.

Structural Concepts
Structural Concepts grab and go cases are a key design element throughout the UBS Arena’s concessions and marketplace operation.

Typically, the larger clubs that do have exhibit kitchens and an open feature cooking. So for UBS that would be the main concourse clubs and the diamond UBS club.

They both have open kitchens that feature the exhibit cooking and finishing, where some of the smaller clubs still have a buffet. 

It’s a more social experience. People are moving around and not staying in one place for all the periods or for the full event. they’re moving around.

They’re wanting to see what else is on the concourse.

What else do they have access to? There’s different food and beverages as you go around the building on different levels and they’re wanting to experience different experiences at each level. 

I think I can say that from a design perspective, the way we collaborate as a team, it’s very integrated.

So the interior design, architecture and graphic and signage elements are all cohesive, because it’s a very collaborative process. 

UBS Arena Bakers Pride
The Marketplace Concessions at UBS feature a full pizza suite with the very latest in Bakers Pride ovens’ cooking technology.

Jason Carmello’s Commentary

[The market concept] was designed pre COVID. It was about pushing innovation on food service and having that ahead. I think with COVID we made some slight adjustments.

I think one of the big takeaways we talked about fairly early on was we pushed the envelope with the food service concepts and, in a lot of ways, we were really trying out new concepts.

They’ve been successful not only with the queuing lines and the space, but also with the return on investments of ownership.

So those large marketplaces, having people kind of cook in front of you, given the ability for you to make decisions kind of not mind and take your time, I think those types of concepts we’ll bring forward as well. 

We’ve got about 65,000 square feet is kind of a marshalling yard down below that’s covered heated enclosed. We dedicated two truck docks for food service.

They’re located directly next to the security entrance. And what we also did was we aligned them, so that when you load that food in on those two docks, it is a straight shot to the kitchen commissary.

It gets in the commissary and then the team gets to work on putting it in the right spot or are preparing. 

There are about 13,000 feet dedicated on that level for food service and commissary.

There’s about eight or nine coolers and freezers and then lots of storage racks that tie directly into the central kitchen commissary and the prep area. 

Bally walk-in
Bally’s walk-in boxes were specified to support Delaware North’s commitment to the very freshest fare throughout the UBS operation.

One of the subtle moves architecturally was having continuous kind of circulation throughout every level so that you don’t have to bring a product necessarily on an elevator up, down and around — so you can get in as quickly as possible.

Kurt Admunsen Weighs In

I think from the beginning, the overall marching order, especially from OBG was this was going to be second only to the MSG as far as a music venue in the New York market. From a fan experience standpoint and from an artist experience standpoint.

It’s always a balancing act with this building type that serves both sports and live entertainment, because what you want for each of those is opposite.

You want a live, loud, raucous atmosphere for a hockey game and then for a concert you need low frequency absorption throughout the building.

So it’s a balancing act between where and very strategic where you place hard materials and where you place sound absorbing materials to achieve both.

  • Simplot Frozen Avocado
  • BelGioioso Burrata
  • Imperial Dade
  • DAVO Sales Tax
  • McKee Foodservice
  • RAK Porcelain
  • T&S Brass Eversteel Pre-Rinse Units
  • Inline Plastics Safe-T-Chef
  • Day & Nite
  • AyrKing Mixstir


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