Comcast Arena changes up its food offerings

EVERETT — Visitors to Comcast Arena might want to bring their appetites to the next Raptors arena football game.

A major renovation to the arena’s concession area is nearly complete.

The goal is to give customers better eats and more of them.

“That’s what fans have come to expect,” said Randall Olson, general manager of Centerplate, the arena’s catering company. “They want a higher level of service and lots of food offerings.”

Gone are food counters run by the outside vendors Bobby’s Hawaiian, Ivar’s and Kidd Valley.

Those companies and Centerplate both agreed to part ways.

Instead, Centerplate is offering its own ethnic options including a made-to-order pasta bar, Mexican food and Asian stir-fry.

They’ve added a diner-style stand called Hewitt’s Diner to replace Kidd Valley and they’ve added Possession Sound, a surf-and-turf place, to replace Ivar’s and Bobby’s Hawaiian. It offers fish and chips, fish and chicken sandwiches, clam chowder and chicken strips.

To ensure quality, the catering company is having its own culinary staff cook the food — that’s a change.

A beer stand offers local craft beers. A wine bar sells speciality items tailored to various events, such as a cabernet by Wayne Gretzky for hockey games.

Yes, Wayne Gretzky has traded hat tricks for wine.

“We think about it as one big restaurant with multiple varieties,” Olson said.

Outside vendors Alfy’s Pizza, Frost Doughnuts and Dippin’ Dots all remain.

Centerplate also wants to make dining more of an experience at the arena. It’s not just about grabbing a beer and dog and catching the game. It’s about providing other options for guests to socialize, he said.

The concessions area reflects that change. There’s now seating so visitors can eat some place other than their seats.

Centerplate has made other improvements on the concourse, including adding six big-screen TVs and new seating in the bar, the Ice Box Lounge.

The arena’s new executive chef, Duff Allen, helped develop some of the items at the Hewitt’s Diner stand, including a $6 basket of garlic Parmesan fries that’s already proven popular.

The diner sells a half-pound hotdog topped with house-made steak chili for $7.50.

The changes are paid for by Centerplate, part of the company’s contract with the Public Facilities District, which operates the arena.

Not all of the planned concession stands are open now. Habaneros, which will offer Mexican cuisine, likely won’t be open until later this year.

Debra Smith: 425-339-3197;

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