OCEANPORT: Monmouth Park operators are hoping to bring in the crowds this summer season with new food options and menus throughout the racetrack.
Newly-appointed Monmouth Park Vice President of Food and Beverage Thomas Barone said during a May 9 press conference that the decision was made to do all the cooking in-houses and not have a fiscal partner as in past years.
"The park made the decision to take food service in-house for a variety of reasons certainly amongst them was financial, but what excited us more was some of the other opportunities it afforded us," Barone said. "Chiefly among them was the opportunity to bring in some local vendors..it gave us complete autonomy...and allowed us to do cost-cutting."
This summer, Max's Famous Hot Dogs and Strollo's Lighthouse Homemade Italian Ice will have a presence at the park. Max's will be located in the Boardwalk area and Strollo's will be located in the former arcade on the first floor of the grandstand. Both will also have satellite locations in the picnic area.
"Because man cannot live on food alone, we're also looking into craft beers and New Jersey has an abundance of them," Barone said. "You're going to find those located all throughout the park, but specifically we're building a stand in the paddock area....and that will coincide with the barbecue concept that we are running ourselves."
Kentucky Ale, a Lexington-based brewer, has also set up shop at the north end of the Grandstand.
All of the food at Monmouth Park will now be handled by the executive chef of Blu Grotto, the gourmet Italian restaurant located near the miniature golf course at the park.
The terrace will now have a huge tank where diners in that can order their own lobster. The meat from the lobsters will also be used to make lobster rolls throughout the park.
The Lady's Secret Cafe will now showcase paninis and salads. A new "pirate ship" has set up shop in the picnic area for cocktails and the entire park will feature drink specials throughout the summer.
Barone said food and drink prices have also been "slashed across the board." For example, domestic and imported beer last year cost $7 and $8, respectively, last year, but will now cost $4 and $5, respectively.
"We're trying to be more customer-pleasing, we're trying to show them...that for the best bang for your buck, Monmouth Park is the way to go," Barone said.
Dennis Drazin, advisor to Darby Development LLC, operators of the racetrack, said the biggest complaint about Monmouth Park in the past has been the food.
"The complaints have been constant and what we decided to do was change the food culture here," Drazin said.