The Twins' move across town to Target Field is providing an opportunity for Twin Cities restaurants to reach a new audience. Along with traditional stadium fare, the new ballpark also features different and more upscale choices.
Monday, the Twins plan to announce fancy French restaurant Vincent has signed on. There is also a big emphasis on local foods with Minnesota history.
During Saturday's inaugural game, a half dozen cooks in chef whites and tall chef hats worked a busy meat stall on the main concourse. As the crowds pushed past, one chef leaned over a hot wok. Another carved a roast.
Kris Coach is one of the many chefs who work for Delaware North Companies Sportservice. The company is in charge of everything from hot dogs to high-end steaks.
"Classic ballpark fare. We do nachos, hand-battered walleye, a turkey wrap, chopped salad, oriental salad," said Coach. "For the buffet we'll be doing some rotisserie type meats, some roasted meats, a salad action station, a center action station where we'll be doing pastas, flash pan fish, stuff like that. A big menu!"
Saturday was the first chance for the public to taste the offerings at the new stadium, when the University of Minnesota Gophers played the first game at the ballpark. And there was a lot to eat.
Twins officials say the move to Target Field was an opportunity to sell foods you couldn't get at the Metrodome. Along with nachos and Budweiser, fans here can find hometown favorites like Juicy Lucy burgers, Murray's steak sandwiches and Summit Beer.
While some people were sad to see the Twins lose Minnesota-based Hormel's famous Dome Dog, others are looking forward to trying new things. Starting this season, Schweigert will make the hot dogs.
Another local favorite, Kramarczuk's sausages, attracted long lines all day Saturday. Waiting for a Kramarczuk's bratwurst, Erik Sandvick said he's impressed with the food options.
"This stadium seems to have much more of an embrace of the local culture here, with the food, with the sausages and with the local beers -- everything from Summit to Schell's," Sandvick said. "I think it's a great thing."
He took a bite of his brat and smiled. "It tastes like summer. It tastes like absolute summer, even though it's in the mid-40s today," said Sandvick. "It's a great way to start off, the first thing I've eaten at the new stadium."
"I'm glad to hear that reaction," said Minnesota Twins spokesman Kevin Smith. Smith said the Twins wanted to go as local as possible.
"We know Minnesotans like Minnesota stuff, and that is why we brought it in."
Orest Kramarczuk,the co-owner of the northeast Minneapolis company that bears his name, said the chance to sell his Eastern European sausages at the new stadium was an opportunity he couldn't pass up.
"You know how I did it? I called them once, and I said I'd be very interested to be part of the new stadium. That was it," he recalled. "Nine months later, I called back. 'Have you had a chance to think about it?' 'Yes we have. We are coming over for lunch.' The whole upper management team came over for lunch. They loved it."
And that, he said, was it.
Kramarczuk's will sell three kinds of sausages at the stadium -- bratwurst, Polish and Hungarian - with or without sauerkraut and onions. He said he's honored to be able to sell sausages made from the same recipes his parents used when they came to this country from Ukraine in the 1940s.
"Tradition, yeah, and I'm just glad they were open to it, to give a small guy a chance," he said.
Kramarczuk's is the only restaurant that will personally prepare and deliver its food for each game. Others had to share their recipes with the stadium's chefs.
With 81 home games this season, it might not be easy to keep up, but Kramarczuk said the deal with Target Field will not force them to sacrifice quality.
"We will not compromise. I asked a customer once -- I said, 'What could you live with -- raising a price or cheapening the product or making it smaller or something?' They told me, 'If you have to raise the price, raise the price. Don't change the quality.' And that is what we are about."
It's unclear how many sausages Kramarczuk's will need to make to keep the fans happy, but they estimate it'll be at least 1,000 for each game. They say they'd be happy if sales were good enough to hire more employees.
Kramarczuk said giving jobs to local people should be a key part of the new Twins stadium.