St. Louis City SC names Olive + Oak, Olio and Sunday Best among seven new restaurants coming to CityPark for 2024 MLS season
St. Louis City SC today unveiled the lineup of CityPark restaurant partners for the 2024 MLS season, with new additions including Olive + Oak, Olio, Sunday Best, Seoul Taco, Medina Mediterranean Grill, Saucy Porka and Donut Drive-In. Other new offerings at CityPark will include expanded mobile order-ahead options, a concession dedicated to allergen-free dishes, an increase in vegetarian, budget-friendly and kid-friendly items, and a rotating selection of craft cocktails created by Ted Kilgore of Planter’s House.
Matt Sebek, City SC’s chief experience officer, teamed up again with the club’s “flavor officer,” James Beard Award-winning chef Gerard Craft of Niche Food Group, to shape the food lineup at CityPark for the club’s sophomore season in the MLS. Stadium hospitality partner Levy Restaurants also plays a critical role in the City SC food service operation, with executive chef Ben Grupe leading the Levy team at CityPark. Sebek and Craft said they aim to elevate the food offerings at CityPark this season, as well as continuing to build an in-stadium culinary experience that reflects the diversity of the St. Louis community and its food scene.
The seven new local additions unquestionably introduce a few local heavyweights to the matchday food program. The headline attraction from Olive + Oak’s presence at CityPark will be the Webster Groves’ restaurant’s famous O+O Burger, which will also be available in a kids’ version. Olive + Oak will be cooking and assembling the burger fresh inside the stadium on matchdays, and their menu could not only include offerings from the Olive + Oak menu, but also from other restaurants under the O+O Hospitality umbrella, including The Clover and The Bee and O+O Pizza.
The presence of Ben Poremba’s Olio will provide a stopgap for fans of the restaurant during its transition from its former location in Botanical Heights to a new home in the Delmar Maker District. Olio’s menu will feature hummus bowls and chicken shawarma, Sebek said.
Sunday Best’s fried chicken sandwich looks set to be another standout for the 2024 season, while Seoul Taco’s menu will feature the Korean-Mexican restaurant’s burritos with kimchi rice. Saucy Porka will be serving its signature “bacos,” bao buns stuffed with Mexican-inspired fillings as well as “some really creative nachos,” Sebek said. Medina will add halal-friendly Middle Eastern cuisine to matchdays – a gap that needed filling, Craft acknowledged – while Donut Drive-In will bring South City’s best-loved donuts to CityPark.
Among the existing restaurant partners who will return for the new season are Amighetti’s, Anthonino’s Taverna, Balkan Treat Box, BEAST Craft BBQ Co., Bold Spoon Creamery, Niche Food Group’s Brass Burger, Dewey’s Pizza, Farmtruk, Ices Plain & Fancy, Kaldi’s Coffee, Malinche, Mayo Ketchup, Padrinos Mexican Restaurant, Pastaria, Pie Guy Pizza, Steve’s Hot Dogs, The Fattened Caf, Union Loafers and Wally’s. Sebek and Craft said fans can look forward to some of those restaurants changing things up for the new season. That could mean expanded menus, new items and more vegetarian options.
“Some of them have moved into new locations, or bigger locations,” Sebek said of the restaurants who are continuing their stay at CityPark. Farmtruk, for example, now has two locations in different parts of the stadium. “They crush it,” Sebek said. “So for us it was, let’s give them a little bit more capacity and more equipment so they can not only service more fans, but they’re really excited about expanding their menu as well."
Several restaurant partners from the inaugural season will not be returning to CityPark for 2024. Those departing include: The Block, whose former location in the stadium will be taken over by Olive + Oak; DD Mau Vietnamese Eatery, which will be replaced by Saucy Porka; Chez Ali, who departed mid-way through last season; and La Tiendita, which is being replaced by Malinche. Malinche spent the 2023 season operating out of CityPark’s limited-access Michelob Ultra Club: Relocating to the stadium’s main concourse means anyone attending a match at CityPark can now experience Malinche’s Mexican cuisine.
Changes are also afoot in CityPark’s more exclusive “premium” areas. In the Together Credit Union Club, Niche’s Pastaria Deli & Wine is adding hot sandwiches to complement its Detroit-style pizzas, while the BrassBurger menu will also be expanded, with milkshakes among the new items. Niche will also be offering an all-inclusive option for those seated in the stadium’s private loge boxes. Adding an extra twist to the drinks offerings, Ted Kilgore of Planter’s House will be creating a rotating series of cocktails to be served exclusively in the stadium’s limited-access suites.
The Pitch Club, the limited-access lounge where the City SC players briefly line up before taking the field, will continue to feature guest chefs on matchdays. Craft said some of the names lined up for the early weeks of the new City SC season include Mike Johnson of Hot Pizza Cold Beer (as well as Sugarfire Smoke House and Hi-Pointe Drive-In), Tim Eagan of Fleur STL (Sauce’s No. 6 Best New Restaurant of 2023), Katie Collier of Katie’s Pizza and Pasta Osteria, Alex Henry of Sureste and El Molino del Sureste, Jason Tilford of Mission Taco Joint, and Logan Ely of The Lucky Accomplice and Press.
According to City SC, the City Flavor program delivered over $3.5 million in revenue for the club’s restaurant partners. The club said that more than half of fans surveyed at the end of last season said they had visited a restaurant belonging to one of the club’s restaurant partners after eating their food inside CityPark on matchdays.
City SC also said fans will notice a number of other changes at CityPark that are a direct response to supporter feedback. “Season one was remarkable, and the food was such a big part of that experience,” Sebek said. “But we really want to start to fill in the gaps on areas where we’re not perfect."
Allergen-free meals have been identified as one such category, and a new concession stand will be dedicated to serving fans who have specific dietary needs. Every detail of the allergen-free stand is designed to avoid cross-contamination. “For a lot of people that means nothing, but for families like my own, where my daughter has allergies, finding a trusted place can be really, really difficult,” Craft said.
Families will appreciate the addition of new concessions designed specifically to meet their needs, both in terms of menu items and pricing. “It’ll be nice to have a couple of stadium-friendly stands that offer some lower priced items for families,” Craft said. Fans also asked for a wider range of nonalcoholic drink offerings throughout the stadium, and the club will respond with an expanded selection that will include coffee drinks and NA beers, among other items.
Technology is another area City SC believes it can do more with. The club said over 20 percent of sales in 2023 came through the City SC app, and the plan is to build on that in 2024. This season, fans will be able to use the app’s order-ahead feature to order from 15 different restaurants, compared to nine last season. “By the end of this season, we hope to have even more of our partners on mobile order ahead,” said Sebek. The app can also be used to make payments at the checkout-free markets which are dotted around the stadium. Sebek added that the club hopes to add more personalized features within the app, which might include recommending restaurants based on where a fan is located in the stadium, or suggesting a newly added menu item.
Craft said he expects to see City Flavor deliver incremental improvements in the club’s second season, both for fans and restaurant partners. “The toughest thing about season two is we shot for the moon in season one and nailed it,” he said. “We're watching all these other stadiums trying to really amp up their local game. But I think we did it to such a massive extent it's going to take a long time for people to catch up to what we're doing."
“We think it’s one of the best food courts in America, that is also a great place to watch soccer,” said Sebek. “Tons of variety, tons of diversity, lots of different price points. We’re really excited."
City SC fans will get their first opportunity to experience the new-look City Flavor food program on Feb. 20, when the club welcomes Houston Dynamo to CityPark for round one of the Concacaf Champions Cup, the first competitive game of the 2024 season. The first match of the MLS regular season follows on Feb. 24 with the visit of Real Salt Lake to CityPark.