Hot dogs, pretzels, knishes and pizza will have to make room for "real" food at Madison Square Garden (MSG) this year as the company renovates -- transforms, in official argot -- its main property.
As part of the rollout of the new garden, the company is opening a series of bistros by top chefs and restaurateurs Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Andrew Carmellini, Drew Nieporent and Jeremy Marshall.
Each chef is developing an exclusive bistro and menu under the MSG Signature Collection name, which will launch in November after the garden opens in its new form late next month. MSG will have completed only the first phase of a three-year construction project.
The new eateries cleave -- at least thematically -- to the traditional idea of stadium food as one-hand friendly, with a focus on burgers, dogs and sandwiches, but they eschew the commoditized nature of such food by redefining for haute cuisine things like burgers and dogs.
As part of the epicurean evolution, restaurateur Nieporent will open "Daily Burger," offering such variants as a cheese and bacon burger with onion jam; Carmellini and partner Luke Ostrom will open "Sausage Boss" whose menu includes a beer-steeped cheese bratwurst weinkraut and mustard; Vongerichten will open "Simply Chicken," which will have things like a chicken hot dog with kim chee and spicy mustard; Marshall, who oversees Aquagrill, will open "Lobster Shrimp Roll by Aquagrill" at a number of locations. There will also be Carnegie Deli and Hill Country Barbecue, as well as gluten-free and kosher foods, and "Carlos and Gabby's" desserts from Magnolia Bakery.
Hank Ratner, president and CEO, said the organization will not advertise the new venues, but will get the word out via direct mail, new branding and signage at the venue and earned media.
"We are finishing the first phase now," said Ratner of the reconstruction. "The whole lower bowl will be done by October with all new seats, an all-new concourse, more food stations and more bathrooms." At the event level, there will be 20 suites, a new Delta Sky Club, 8th- and 10th-floor viewing areas where people can get food yet still view the bowl. "We took feedback from fans and customers. MSG is commonly known for events, but now it will also be known for food that can only be gotten at MSG."
For the new venue, JP Morgan Chase is the garden's first marquee partner. Delta Air Lines, Coca-Cola, and Anheuser-Busch are signature partners.