There are 120 food and drink service locations in the stadium, 800 till-payment points and 1,200 staff – so it’s a huge operation. Colin Whitton has met with fans who’ve made specific complaints so far this season and is keen to continue to do so. He also said DNC was regularly mystery shopped - up to 60 times per event - and was always keen for more feedback.
We said that we felt that prices were generally too high. We appreciated that Delaware North had used its lowest price package for our games, in recognition that these were regular events and not special ‘one offs’ for supporters. However, some items (such as bottled water) were much too expensive. Water is currently £2.50, and Coke £3.20, and these are often bought for children. We were told that soft drinks would be looked at to see if there is any room for movement, and complaints that fizzy drinks were too often flat would also be investigated once DNC are told which kiosks this is happening at.
Dave Rotheram understood that reduced prices may generate more custom for DNC, so would explore possibilities. THST suggested it would be in everyone’s interest to incentivise early entrance to the stadium by offering food and drink deals as part of a wider mix. Fans weren’t wedded to the overpriced pubs as they weren’t Tottenham pubs and many had hiked their prices up on match days, too. There would be an appetite to get into the ground earlier if food and drink was cheaper and there was more to do.
DNC would be willing to build on existing pie and pint deals but wanted Spurs and WNSL to help with this drive. Jonathan Waite agreed to discuss this further at THFC, with a view to involving all parties in moving this forward.
Apparently there is a pie and pint deal for early arrivers at the stadium. We said this wasn’t something many fans were aware of so it was agreed this needs to be much more widely publicised through the Club, the Trust and Wembley.
THST asked for a full breakdown of the current pricing tariff, which DNC agreed to provide. Dave Rotheram stressed that DNC was a private company and, as such, 95% of the profits went back into the business.
We raised the issue of stock regularly running out, especially pies. Dave Rotheram explained that DNC looks at the equivalent game in the closest time slot, how much was sold and adds 20% to that quantity per product. They also operate a real-time stock system that that shows what’s left after every sale and when that gets to 30% they restock.
DNC also fully replenishes during the first half. However there is only so much cooking space per kiosk and only so much space to keep food hot so supplies can run out and there may be a wait. Dave Rotheram explained how he’s tried to rationalise the product range and keep the kiosks simple and streamlined.
THST reported the lack of hot water for hot drinks. DNC is aware of the problem, which is historic. It added 60 additional boilers this season to try and ease the situation but it is a longer term issue. DNC acknowledged it has applied a sticking plaster for now, and said the venue needs a refurb for this to be solved permanently. This can’t be done during THFC’s tenancy. DNC said there are 133 stand-alone units for hot drinks around the stadium too. Bovril is now on the menu, including on the hot chocolate carts.
We will shortly be circulating a map of the stadium showing what food and drink is available at each point, as well as a priced menu, so that our supporters are better informed.
THST pointed out that the queues around the West end of Level 1 were larger because that had the highest density of ST holders, so was amongst the busiest in the ground. Fans tended to stay near their blocks at half time and not wander around the concourse to find different food offerings. Having better information may encourage a little more movement and take some pressure off those ‘home end’ kiosks.
It was agreed that in light of how little time there is at half time, and how long we have to queue, it would be a great help if there could be audio announcements telling us when to return to our seats. The audio and use of screens at Wembley is down to Spurs, who agreed to progress this. We also asked for the ongoing issues with sound inside the internal stadium bowl to be resolved. THFC continue to discuss a resolution with sound system engineers, Vanguardia.
Every stall and kiosk has card payment facilities and every burger kiosk has 50% cash tills. Not all staff have yet been trained to take money, and we expressed our concern that not enough were – this causes delays at certain times. Delaware clearly take training seriously though and have four key areas, including customer engagement. There is a programme for change, but this is a large-scale investment and they are doing what they can to improve short-term by moving around pieces of equipment in the kiosks to speed up service.
Menus and staff
Children’s meals were praised – feedback showed fans thought they offered good quality and value for money.
Vegan and vegetarian options are available but it is not possible for all staff to know all brands because suppliers change at short notice and, for example, it would be hard to confirm that chips are completely vegan all year round. However, there are managers available who cover five stands each and they would be able to give definitive answers if staff are asked. This involves a short wait while the relevant manager is located and arrives though. DNC also state that vegan requirements vary and so again, it is hard for all staff on all stalls to be able to hold all this knowledge.
All staff are trained in what allergens are included in food and should be able to tell customers.
We were also told that bottled drink lids are taken – a regular source of complaint – because bottles with lids on don’t compress if a large crowd has to be evacuated. Bottles without lids can easily be crushed underfoot. Hence, with smaller crowds, lids can be provided.
DNC have worked very well with Tottenham Hotspur Foundation to recruit and train staff who will be able to move on to the new stadium or work at Wembley on an ongoing basis.
We left the meeting feeling that DNC is receptive to feedback. It is very helpful if we can be notified of where the issues are.
We are grateful to all supporters who have told us of their experiences and we will continue to apply any pressure we can to ensure that the catering experience is as good as it can be during our season away from N17.
Rachel Martin - THST Catering Lead
Kat Law - THST Co-chair
7 December 2017