Concessionaire Aramark apparently forgot the fourth “M” when hyping the food offerings at U.S. Bank Stadium as “Minnesota, memorable and modern.”
That fourth M would be money. Despite making room for and welcoming smaller minority-owned, local restaurateurs, Aramark didn’t pay them until last week, three months after the building opened.
Although the Philadelphia-based Aramark operates venues throughout the country, all has not gone smoothly for the opening of the $1.1 billion U.S. Bank Stadium.
The local vendors who are selling food in suites, stands and kiosks throughout the building were paid late last week or will be paid this week, according to Aramark spokesman Dave Freireich. He faulted a “clerical” error for the failure to pay the vendors and declined to elaborate on what the problem was. Freireich also declined to say how much money and how many vendors were involved.
Freireich said Aramark — which has contracts in 17 NFL stadiums — had “reached out to all the partners. We recognize how valuable they are.”
Michele Kelm-Helgen, chairwoman of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, said she first heard the vendors weren’t being paid in a phone call Monday night from Aramark informing her of a forthcoming story in City Pages, which is owned by the Star Tribune. “Clearly this is not how we treat our Minnesota food partners,” she said, calling the situation “not acceptable” and saying it won’t happen again.
None of the vendors contacted her before she heard from Aramark. “I wish they would have,” Kelm-Helgen said. “We would have obviously addressed it sooner.”
The City Pages story didn’t identify any of the unpaid vendors. Freireich confirmed that none of the local partners had been paid until recently.
Lawyer Jon Farnsworth identified one of the vendors as Minneapolis-based Prairie Dogs, which sells hot dogs and sausages. As of Tuesday, Prairie Dogs had yet to be paid. Farnsworth said Aramark told him a check had been cut last week and should be in hand this week. Farnsworth said his dealings with Aramark were “as nice as could be and respectful.”
He also was given the direct line to a corporate attorney in case there are future problems. “They seem to have taken responsibility. They’ve apologized and they’re trying to do better,” Farnsworth said.
The stadium’s most popular local vendor so far appears to be the outpost of Revival restaurant selling its fried chicken. Initially, there were problems keeping the stand supplied with enough chicken to last an entire game.
Revival owner Nick Rancone said he’s been paid. “We look forward to continuing our business relationship with Aramark,” he said.