March 4th, 2024

Close-up on Co-op Place: The growing appetite for culinary events

By ADAM KOCH on February 24, 2023.

Close up view of Co-op Place's holiday meal Pre-Game Buffet this past December. - SUBMITTED PHOTO RANDY FEERE

“We know our successes are even bigger than what the public sees.”

This was a part of a conversation with a colleague recently, and it made me reflect on some of the auxiliary pieces of my job. My title as Food and Beverage Manager can be a little broad, especially with how many different events and programs the Community Development Department team is offering at any given time, and in multiple venues.

In the last week alone I’ve had meetings about the Spirited History Whisky Tasting, Dinner in the Dark (which sold out within hours of announcing), new food offerings for the On-Stage Series shows, Tigers games, and dance competition menus all coming up over the next couple of months.

As I wrote my first draft of this article, we had a Tigers game happening at Co-op Place on the same day as two A Dinosaur Tale shows at the Esplanade. We had also served our Pre-Game Buffet meal to hungry Tigers fans and were preparing to feed the visiting team their post-game meal, which is something we’re very proud to offer.

To that last point, as a nod to the teams, we bought a bunch of different coloured linens for cutlery rolls. If the visiting team wins, they get their team colours. Lose, and they get orange and black. It’s something that only 30 players and a handful of staff usually see, but it carries meaning to us. It’s unique, and it gets people talking about Co-op Place catering. I’ve had multiple coaches tell me they asked us to do post-game meals because they heard we had amazing food. I tell them we’re going for the “best food in the ‘Dub'”(WHL).

I’m not sure how we stack up against the rest of the league, but I can tell you we don’t get much leftovers and if we do, they are top-notch!

Pre-Game Buffets are another point of pride for the F&B Team. We’ve worked hard to have creative menu offerings, and we make almost everything from scratch. We only have one more buffet left this season on March 25. You won’t want to miss it!

I’m constantly amazed by how much this team can scale up to meet varying demands. The sold-out Regina Pats game was a great example. We don’t have three times the staff to serve three times the guests, so we had to get creative. There were challenges, and more stress than usual. But as I walked the concourse just before the doors opened, I saw nothing but smiles, and felt a wave of electricity. Someone wrote a note on the white board just saying, “We got this!” and it became the mantra for the day. By the end our feet were sore, and ears were ringing, but the smiles never faded.

I guess in my typical long-winded way, what I’m trying to say is that when you have a great team behind you, every challenge can be seen as an opportunity. To welcome people into our spaces and give them the best experience possible. To find nuggets of creativity in the routine and let people do their best work. To create successes that the public can celebrate with us. Thank you for all your support on this journey with us.

Adam Koch is Food and Beverage Manager with Co-op Place and the Esplanade

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