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Capital One Arena debuts new menu with local fan favorites

In collaboration with Aramark Sports and Entertainment, their exclusive food and beverage partner, Capital One Arena adds food from local restaurants to their menu in preparation for the indoor sports season.

Samples on display at the Food Media Day. (Branson Brooks/The Hilltop)

With the weather beginning to cool down, the world is gearing up to prepare for indoor sports to commence.

On Oct. 6, Capital One Arena, in collaboration with Aramark Sports and Entertainment, their exclusive food and beverage partner, hosted a Food Media Day in preparation for hockey season, which will open with the Columbus Blue Jackets versus the Washington Capitals.

Washington Capitals Ice Hockey Rink. (Branson Brooks/The Hilltop)

The event featured culinary creations and local restaurants that can be found around D.C. but would not usually be accessible while watching a hockey or basketball game. 

However, this is the goal of Chef Steven Haughie, executive chef of Aramark Sports and Entertainment. 

Haughie’s mission is to make authentic food you can’t find everywhere in the arena. Haughie wants to bring something to the table other than the traditional hot dogs, nachos, and fries that are prevalent at most games.

“I don’t want something that I can find everywhere. I want something that you can get at somebody’s house. That’s what I’m really looking at in terms of my menus, partners, and the overall experience.”

The participating restaurants included Bun Papa, CHIKO, District Doughnut, Little Miner Taco, and Stuggy’s Sandwich Shop. All of these are establishments that hail from the DMV area. Each restaurant had its unique style and characteristics, which set them apart.

Little Miner Taco originally opened in 2019 and is credited with bringing birria to the DMV. Lucia, marketing manager for Little Miner Taco, spoke on the restaurant’s belief in high-quality food, inspiring them to open up shop in the first place.

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“Our founders really wanted to focus on bringing high-quality food to food deserts, and that’s really what inspired them to open in the first place,” Lucia said. “What you put in your body is important to how you express yourself and how you create. So we care a lot about our community, and especially during the pandemic, we wanted to make sure that we’re targeting our people, our community, the people we care about.”

A handful of people were in attendance, including food reviewers, social media influencers, and Washington Wizards guard Jared Butler who was there to taste-test the food. In past years the event wasn’t as immersive, but with the rise of social media, Capital One saw how they could use it to gain more eyes on their food services.

Food Media Day participants network while taste-testing food samples. (Branson Brooks/The Hilltop)

Damyon McFarland, Senior Concessions Manager for Aramark Sports and Fitness, believes “social media is bigger than ever. When you look at five years ago, TikTok, Facebook and Instagram reels all have exploded. So just letting everybody know what we have to offer here at Capital One was just the number one part.”

Another big-name food reviewer in attendance was none other than the “Big Schlim.” Big Schlim has made waves with his food reviews around the DMV by using his colorful personality and distinct grading system to captivate viewers. D.C.’s variety of food makes Big Schlims’ job as a food reviewer even more exciting.

“One of the things that drives me to do food reviewing in D.C. is just the variety that we have here. We got a rack of options. I grew up eating empanadas and beef patties. There are so many different cultures in D.C. and so many different spots that you can go to experience those cultures. It’s a rich culture of food here,” Big Schlim said.

Capital One Arena and Aramark Sports and Entertainment will look to continue these food media days for newly added menu items during the season. Capital One Arena has absolutely stepped out of the norm from what most arenas serve.

Copy edited by Alana Matthew

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