Harrison County

The food at the Coast Coliseum is about to get a total overhaul. Here's what's coming.

Those who attend concerts and events at the Coast Coliseum and Convention Center in Biloxi will have new food choices as Levy Restaurants, which provides the food at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta and hundreds of other venues, starts cooking.
Those who attend concerts and events at the Coast Coliseum and Convention Center in Biloxi will have new food choices as Levy Restaurants, which provides the food at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta and hundreds of other venues, starts cooking. Sun Herald

For the first time in 41 years, someone new will be doing the cooking at the Coast Coliseum and Convention Center.

Levy Convention Centers, part of a company that created 128,000 mint juleps for the Kentucky Derby and fresh sushi burritos for the Stanley Cup Finals, will become the new food service provider in Biloxi starting July 1.

A job fair to fill local positions is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 14 at the Coliseum & Convention Center off U.S. 90.

Levy will invest $2.5 million in new equipment and venues as part of the 10-year contract, said Matt McDonnell, executive director of the Coast Coliseum & Convention Center. New concession stands, cafes and a VIP lounge area will be added McDonnell said.

“We were determined to make a massive investment in enhancing our experience for guests and show organizers, and elevating our hospitality approach was absolute top priority,” McDonnell said. “Levy is the absolute best in the business at creating incredible culinary and beverage service at venues like ours, and we’re thrilled to partner with them to re-imagine the taste and experience of the Mississippi Coast Coliseum & Convention Center.”

Levy has provided food service for the Super Bowl, Grammy Awards, PGA Championship, US Open Tennis Tournament and other top events, along with at nearly 200 locations such as ballparks and stadiums. The company partners with 23 convention centers across the U.S.

Levy is known for providing local ingredients and inspiration such as fresh New England seafood in Boston and island comfort food in Hawaii.

“Our team is already fully immersed in the local culture and is focusing on incorporating fresh Gulf Coast cuisine, ingredients and purveyors, and bringing an incredible variety to our premium hospitality area," said Andy Lansing, president and CEO of Levy.

The company Facebook page provides examples of some of the dishes created at various venues. At Blue Bell Park, where the Texas A&M Aggies play, crawfish nachos and alligator tacos are on the menu.

In the Upper 90 Club at the Columbus Crew games in Columbus, South Carolina, soccer fans could feast on a special of Po-Boys and Pie, building their own po-boy with voodoo chicken, lobster salad or fried shrimp, topped off with cool key lime pie.

At the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, where Levy oversees the food and beverage service, Falcon fans gave the stadium the highest satisfaction rating in the NFL.

At the Coast Coliseum, the 3 Doors Down and Collective Soul concert on July 14 is the first major event for Levy.

Aramark has provided the food service at Coliseum concession stands since it opened in 1977 and for Mardi Gras balls, conferences, weddings and other events at the convention center. McDonnell said Aramark was one of four companies to bid on the contract along with Levy, Centerplate and Spectra, which supplies the food service at MGM Park. All are national companies, he said.

After extensive presentations by each company, McDonnell said Levy's plans to modernize the facilities and equipment stood out and the Coliseum Commission agreed to a 10-year contract.

"By extending it out to 10 years it allowed for more investment," he said.

Levy Restaurant started as a deli in Chicago in 1978, the year after the Coast Coliseum opened, and is one of the fastest growing food service companies in the country. The company pioneered the concept of stadium fine dining in 1982 at the old Comiskey Park in Chicago and was the first outside organization allowed to own and operate a restaurant at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

It has more than 35,000 employees and Forbes named Levy one of America's Best Employers and ranked it third on its list of America's Best Employers for Diversity.

Levy Cares is the charitable arm of the company and according to the website, it supports local children’s causes and provides food and shelter to the homeless and hungry in each of its markets.

Mary Perez: 228-896-2354, @MaryPerezSH

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