Patrick Bluso, director of food and beverage for SAVOR at SMG-managed American Bank Center, talks growth and bringing great cuisine to the Coastal Bend.
By: Kristen Bily
When attending your favorite concert, show or sporting event, the experience is one to be treasured. Whether enjoying “Sesame Street,” watching an exciting game of hockey or seeing your favorite artist live along with thousands of other fans, it is that experience that stays with us.
SMG-managed American Bank Center is committed to giving patrons the best experience possible, and the food and beverage department known as SAVOR shares that vision of excellence. Since the partnership began in February 2013, SAVOR has grown with the American Bank Center, dedicated to a cuisine that embraces the Coastal Bend.
When one thinks of a national food service, the initial thought is that the cuisine provided will be the same no matter which location you visit. This is not that case for SAVOR, which is the food and beverage division of the SMG facilities. SMG is the international public facility manager of event venues, and each of the 120 facilities served by SAVOR worldwide reflects their individual communities instead of following a one-size-fits-all approach to cuisine.
Patrick Bluso, director of food and beverage of SAVOR at SMG-managed American Bank Center, recently sat down to discuss SAVOR’s growth within the American Bank Center, staying local and what the future holds for SAVOR.
SAVOR is the food and beverage division of SMG. For those not familiar with SAVOR, can you tell us a little bit about you?
From black-tie dinners and business conventions to cultural attractions and entertainment and sports events, SAVOR … caters delicious local cuisine that is freshly prepared and the perfect choice for the ambiance and needs of every client. As part of SMG, the global leader in public facilities management, SAVOR … has been providing food and beverage services since 1983. A hallmark of SAVOR … is our emphasis on flexibility as the means to be responsive to specific facility needs, special requests and culinary trends. By creating a seamless experience for our clients and menu selections acclaimed for excellence, SAVOR … is committed to making food and beverage services an important revenue source for your facility.
How would you describe the cuisine that is featured here at the American Bank Center?
“Fresh, simple, modern” is our philosophy, and our goal is to deliver this concept to all of our guests.
What is a guiding principle for you and the staff of SAVOR?
We have created goals that we must adhere to be a success: Drive best-in-class service, deliver exceptional quality, attract, develop and retain talented leaders and food and beverage safety. We keep this in mind no matter the event that we are working.
When handling food and beverage for the entire venue, your team is handling everything from backstage catering, large luncheons, suites, weddings and concession – sometimes all in one day! How do you make sure that each event is handled with care and the SAVOR team executes a fantastic event?
Our event schedule is exceptionally diverse. The key element we instill is communication with all parties involved, teamwork and follow-up. We strive to be a proactive partner with our building tenants and clients. Process improvement is an ongoing trend for our success, and we embrace it.
Are you excited to see the growth of the American Bank Center and the role that SAVOR plays in this growth?
I absolutely am. Our partnership with American Bank Center will continue to grow, and we are looking forward to offering creative menu offerings and local flavor to the facility.
There have been some new food vendors added to the American Bank Center; who are they?
We celebrate and highlight local flavors that are right here in the Coastal Bend. The Dogfather, who operates exclusively at American Bank Center, serves New York-style hot dogs and sausages and gives great variety. Fuzzy’s Taco Shop and Chick-fil-A are both locally owned restaurant operators. Completely Nuts is a local business owned by a Corpus Christi local who got her start at the Trade Center. Snoball Wizard is also a local family working all the sporting locations in the city.
What is one big misconception about SAVOR that you would like to lay to rest?
One of the largest misconceptions is that we are a large food and beverage company with no ties to the community. Some of the management team may not have been raised here, but our philosophy is that we are 100 percent committed to the community and our team. Our goal is to create a “wow” factor every day, every event and for every guest. We will only accomplish this goal by having thoughtful and thorough preparation, paying attention to detail and making sure to have an efficient execution.
SAVOR not only incorporates local cuisine; they also get involved in the community, as well. How is SAVOR reaching out to the Coastal Bend?
One thing we are very proud of is our partnership with local nonprofits in the area that can raise money for their organizations. Nonprofit groups have the opportunity to work concessions during events at which they are able to display signage and collect a portion of sales. Local organizations that have teamed up with SAVOR include the USO Fundraising Group, Del Mar College Master Chorus and the Del Mar College Respiratory Therapy Program. Volunteers receive training through an operations orientation offered by SAVOR. Organizations can make $200 to $300 per event.
The future is only looking brighter for SMG-managed American Bank Center. What is your goal for SAVOR, and where do you see SAVOR in the coming years?
At SAVOR … we strive for what we call the “wow” factor. To have patrons exclaim that the food was better than they ever expected means a lot to us. To earn this reputation for our facility, we focus on presentation, exceptional quality, fresh authentic flavors, flexibility and creative concepts. At American Bank Center, we carefully consider demographics, trends, pricing, integrity, food safety, ethnic and regional choices and client service. When these factors are kept in balance, the result is a product offering that clients and patrons alike consider a valuable amenity that drives business.
SMG-managed American Bank Center is Corpus Christi’s premier event center providing unprecedented guest experiences.
For more information, visit us online at www.americanbankcenter.com and www.facebook.com/americanbankcenter, or follow us on Twitter (@AmericanBankCtr) and Instagram (@AmericanBankCenter).
Photos courtesy of American Bank Center