As a club that is rightly proud of its close links with its community and fan base, it’s no surprise that Crystal Palace FC has also instilled a strong local element within the food and drink offering available throughout the various outlets and restaurants at its Selhurst Park home. What’s more, with the stadium due to undergo significant redevelopment, subject to planning permission, the catering operation looks set for significant improvement moving forward.
“We offer a range of products within the stadium to cater for every type of visitor with a wide variety of cuisine and price points,” outlines Kane Bridgman, Head of Catering. “Whether it’s just a pie and a pint on the concourse that’s required or a more immersive experience in one of our boxes with chefs on-hand to talk with clients about the dishes, we’re able to provide it. We can offer British, American, Italian and Asian menus but we’re not just about variety, the quality is also extremely important. For instance, as part of our offering we have a Wagyu burger, which is probably the best burger available to buy anywhere in South London.”
While it undoubtedly has bags of character and traditional charm, the age of Selhurst Park means that back of house space is at a premium, although this hasn’t restricted Crystal Palace in its quest to deliver high levels of quality and consistency. “We’ve worked really hard to streamline our operation with template menus having been introduced to allow us to operate more efficiently and increase the number of clients we can cater for,” adds Mr Bridgman. “At the same time customer satisfaction levels have remained high, which are reflected in our mystery shopper scores, which go into great detail on every element of our service.”
“We offer a range of products within the stadium to cater for every type of visitor with a wide variety of cuisine and price points. Whether it’s just a pie and a pint on the concourse that’s required or a more immersive experience in one of our boxes with chefs on-hand to talk with clients about the dishes, we’re able to provide it.”
Kane Bridgman, Head of Catering
The club has also announced plans for an apprenticeship scheme and will take on up to 12 local youngsters as apprentices, giving them the opportunity to be trained in hospitality by the Palace for London Foundation.
Another critical factor behind the consistency has been Crystal Palace’s close relationships with its suppliers, many of which are local businesses with real ties to the club and surrounding area. “A number of local companies make bespoke products just for us. For example, Goddard’s Pies make our signature Cronx Steak & Ale Pie to a special recipe just for Selhurst Park using Cronx beer, which is another local supplier.
“Our supporters very much associate us with the Cronx brewery, while we also have an excellent relationship with Wolf Brewery, which manufacture Palace Ale for us to a recipe of Neil Morrissey, who is a huge Palace fan. It’s only available at the ground and is very popular. We sell over a thousand pints of it on a match day.
“We also have our own Palace red and white wines supplied by Farr Vintners, a business owned by Stephen Browett, one of the club’s shareholders. Again these are premium products that we’re extremely proud of.”
As the breadth and quality of its food and drink offering demonstrates, backed up by its strong sales and high customer satisfaction levels, Crystal Palace is certainly on the right track in terms of delivering the type of off-field experience its supporters are looking for. With the proposed forthcoming redevelopment of Selhurst Park, this experience looks set to be further enhanced.
“We’ve worked exceptionally hard to get the food and drink offer to such a high standard but there’s always room for improvement. Key to this is to keep listening to our customers and gathering their feedback.”
Barry Webber, Commercial Director
“We announced the development plans for the new look stadium just before Christmas and we’ve been working closely with architects KSS on putting the designs together,” outlines Barry Webber, Commercial Director. “They’ve got a tremendous track record in football, having recently completed the Anfield redevelopment, and likewise, they are excited by our plans to redevelop Selhurst Park”
“We’ll be increasing our capacity from 26,000 to 34,000 seats and our Chairman, Steve Parish, has been keen for the development to have a strong nod to the original Crystal Palace. This desire has been reflected in the ambitious architecture and the glass frontage that will cover five storeys. It would be a fantastic showcase for the club.
“From a food and beverage perspective, the redevelopment will provide us with fantastic opportunities to improve our offering further and enhance our clients’ experience, especially from a premium point of view. This will be underpinned by training for our catering staff as our people are at the heart of our offering and play a vital role in delivering the kind of experience we want to provide. It’s all about ensuring that every single element is as high in quality as it possibly can be and this is an ethos that has become instilled throughout the club.
“We’ve worked exceptionally hard to get the food and drink offer to such a high standard but there’s always room for improvement. Key to this is to keep listening to our customers and gathering their feedback. There are so many more different activities vying for the attention of ‘Generation Y’ that we need to make sure we’re the ones that they choose by providing a first class experience in all areas.”
As the redevelopment of Selhurst Park demonstrates, Crystal Palace has a clear eye on the future growth of the club moving forward and the match day experience, including the food and drink offering, will be integral to this.
As part of the Selhurst Park development process, Croydon Council has published the planning application on its website, seeking comments and support on the application. Anyone interested in contributing can do so at: publicaccess2.croydon.gov.uk/online-applications