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#EatItUp: Yard Goats Food Stands To Give Fans Plenty To Graze On

When Dunkin' Donuts Park welcomes baseball fans April 13 for the Yard Goats' home debut, food vendors hope they'll arrive hungry.

The Hartford stadium will offer a smorgasbord of dining options, everything from classic hot dogs, soda and popcorn to the doughnuts and coffee of its name sponsor, Kansas City-style barbecue and signature dishes from the city's diverse ethnic eateries.

Expect a few wacky extreme foods, too, like a BLTDD (bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiched between two glazed Dunkin' doughnuts serving as "bread") at the park's Dark Blues Diner. You'll also find the Dunkin' and Chicken skewers at the Grazin' Goat food stand, with Munchkin doughnut holes threaded kebab-style onto wooden sticks alongside boneless barbecue chicken wings.

"We really view [the park] as one of the largest restaurants in Connecticut," says Yard Goats general manager Tim Restall. "The food is such an important part of the fan experience."

Professional Sports Catering will handle the food service at the park, led by Austin Sagolla, director of food and beverage.

"Any ballpark favorite that people can come up with, we'll have it," Sagolla says, promising burgers, fries, soft pretzels, cotton candy and a grill cart for freshly prepared cheesesteaks and foot-long bratwursts. The signature Yard Goats burger at Dark Blues Diner is topped with arugula, caramelized onions and bacon and — you guessed it — goat cheese.

Visitors also will experience samplings from the local restaurant scene. Bear's Smokehouse was the first major food vendor announced for the park, with a "barbecue deck" space in left field. The menu will feature Bear's staple favorites like pulled pork, brisket and Bear Attacks (meat topping a mound of macaroni and cheese and cornbread.)

Bear's co-owner Cheryl McDonald said the park menu would also offer Hound Dogs, "our way to turn a plain hot dog into deliciousness," with hot dogs topped with choice of pork, brisket or chopped meat; cheese sauce and barbecue sauce. A Philly-style brisket sandwich is also in the works.

U.S.S. Chowder Pot's clam chowder will appear at other concession stands, and a "Reggae in Right" food stand features beef patties from Scott's Jamaican Bakery, along with a Caribbean jerk chicken sandwich and yucca fries with spicy banana ketchup.

Representatives from area restaurants will sell from a kiosk called Hartford Neighborhood Flavors, Restall says, with a rotating lineup of offerings. BK's Chicken and Waffles, Comerio, Caribbean Food Concepts, Southern Bell Soul Food, Mercado Food Truck and The Whey Station have signed on to participate, with more to be announced.

"When fans come to the ballpark, they can taste the local mix of products that are made in the area," Restall says. "Restaurant owners are very passionate; this is a way to be able to showcase that on a bigger stage."

Not all prices have been set, but some prices include hot dogs for $3, Jamaican beef patties for $4, and chicken fingers with fries are $7.75. Bigger-ticket items range from $7 to $13, including a Connecticut-style lobster roll with drawn butter at the Grazin' Goat.

Beer drinkers also will find plenty of choices, with local Thomas Hooker and City Steam brews mixed in with larger brands like Budweiser, Heineken and Sam Adams. "You want to have a good selection — an option for the light drinker, the craft drinker, the stout drinker, the microbrew," Restall says.

Sagolla guarantees there will be healthier fare like salads and wraps, with vegetarian and gluten-free items.

"Everywhere you turn, you'll find food and beverage," he says. "You won't be able to walk very far without finding something new and different."

 

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