Capital One Arena’s new upgrades: Artificial intelligence and pouring your own beer


WASHINGTON — Pour your own beer, new food kiosks and self-serve concession stands are among upgrades and renovations unveiled this week at Capital One Arena downtown.

Numbers of food stalls have kiosks where you can choose menu options and pay electronically before moving to a window to pick up your order. At a “grab-and-go” location, artificially intelligent check out scanners discern what you’re buying and tally the tab so you can pay electronically.

The top-to-bottom renovation wrapped up just in time for the 2018-2019 Washington Capitals’ and Wizards’ seasons.

New food options include everything from hot dogs topped with crab dip to cookie dough desserts and healthy Mediterranean greens and grain bowls.

Multiple food stands now function with kiosks where you place your own order and pay before pick-up. At the Over The Top stand, near section 417, patrons can choose everything from crab dip to chili and bacon to add to orders of nachos, pretzels, hot dogs, fries, wings and tater tots. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Multiple food stands now function with kiosks where you place your own order and pay before pickup. At the Over The Top stand, near section 417, patrons can choose everything from crab dip to chili and bacon to add to orders of nachos, pretzels, hot dogs, fries, wings and tater tots. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
At the self-serve beer wall near section 417, patrons are given a cup with a one-time-use QR code that activates the taps for a single serving. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
Cat Cora’s Olilo is served at the PwC Club. Chef Cat Cora was the first female “Iron Chef.” Her Mediterranean selections include create-your-own greens and grain bowls and gourmet flatbread. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
The D.C. Crab Dog from Hometown Hot Dog is available near section 110. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
The Four Cheese Pizza is available in the PwC Club whole or by the slice. PwC Club seat holders have unlimited access to food options there included in the price of their tickets. PwC Club food also is available for anyone in the arena to purchase. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
From Alex McCoy’s Lucky Buns the Bogan Bun is available near section 120. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
Food items in the PwC Club are available for anyone in the arena to purchase. Offerings include a chef attended carving station, gourmet deserts and made-to-order pizza. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Food items in the PwC Club are available for anyone in the arena to purchase. Offerings include a chef attended carving station, gourmet deserts and made-to-order pizza. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
Made-to-Order Pizza is available in the PwC Club. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Made-to-Order Pizza is available in the PwC Club. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
The Falafel Waffle Chicken is available at Maria Menounos’ Greek Kitchen near section 105. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
Veggie tacos are an option at Tacos 202 near section 107. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
You might want to pair Jalapeno Fries with the Spicy Fried Chicken Sandwich available at chef David Chang’s Fuku near section 117 and from the PwC Club. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
You can PYOB (Pour Your Own Beer) at the beer wall near section 417. Multiple concession stands in the arena now function with kiosks where you place your own order and pay before pickup. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
Artificially intelligent check out scanners ‘read’ a patron’s items and tally the total for electronic payment at the Federal Favorites Express grab-and-go area near section 427. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
$15.25 for a 16 ounce beer is an average price compared to similar entertainment venues in the area, President of Venues for Monumental Sports & Entertainment, David Touhey said. "So, we're not high or low compared to the average in the city." (WTOP/Kristi King)
$15.25 for a 16 ounce beer is an average price compared to similar entertainment venues in the area, President of Venues for Monumental Sports & Entertainment, David Touhey said. “So, we’re not high or low compared to the average in the city.” (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
The beer wall near section 417 offers 17 different varieties of self-serve beers. (WTOP/Kristi King)
The beer wall near section 417 offers 17 different varieties of self-serve beers. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
The color of the hallway lighting can be altered for different events. (WTOP/Kristi King)
The color of the hallway lighting can be altered for different events. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
Four new display cases tell the story of the building and the teams that play at what’s now named Capital One Arena. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
During the course of an event, food options might change for example from full meals to deserts and snacks. "Everything can flip within a matter of seconds," Liz Noe of Aramark said. All the signage in the arena is now digital. Maria Menounos' Greek Kitchen is near section 105. (WTOP/Kristi King)
During the course of an event, food options might change for example from full meals to deserts and snacks. “Everything can flip within a matter of seconds,” Liz Noe of Aramark said. All the signage in the arena is now digital. Maria Menounos’ Greek Kitchen is near section 105. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
Maria Menounos' Greek Kitchen is near section 105. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Maria Menounos’ Greek Kitchen, near section 105. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
The MGM National Harbor VIP Lounge is in space formerly occupied by a basketball practice court. Now, it's open to Capitals and Wizards VIP seat holders. It includes full high-end food and bar wait service. (WTOP/Kristi King)
The MGM National Harbor VIP Lounge is in space formerly occupied by a basketball practice court. Now, it’s open to Capitals and Wizards VIP seat holders. It includes full high-end food and bar wait service. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
"I've been coming to this arena since I was a little kid," local Chef Alex McCoy of Lucky Buns said. The Lucky Buns menu features specialty burgers. "I can't tell you how much it means to be able to come into this arena to cook for my friends and cook for other D.C. sports fans." (WTOP/Kristi King)
“I’ve been coming to this arena since I was a little kid,” local Chef Alex McCoy of Lucky Buns said. The Lucky Buns menu features specialty burgers. “I can’t tell you how much it means to be able to come into this arena to cook for my friends and cook for other D.C. sports fans.” (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
"I'm a D.C. boy, born and raised," Lucky Buns owner and chef, Alex McCoy said. "I've had a lot of really good times here in this arena." Pictured with President of Venues for Monumental Sports & Entertainment, David Touhey and Aramark's Liz Noe at the unveiling of Capital One Arena’s renovated venue, food and drink experience. (WTOP/Kristi King)
“I’m a D.C. boy, born and raised,” Lucky Buns owner and chef, Alex McCoy said. “I’ve had a lot of really good times here in this arena.” Pictured with President of Venues for Monumental Sports & Entertainment, David Touhey and Aramark’s Liz Noe at the unveiling of Capital One Arena’s renovated venue, food and drink experience. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
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Multiple food stands now function with kiosks where you place your own order and pay before pick-up. At the Over The Top stand, near section 417, patrons can choose everything from crab dip to chili and bacon to add to orders of nachos, pretzels, hot dogs, fries, wings and tater tots. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Food items in the PwC Club are available for anyone in the arena to purchase. Offerings include a chef attended carving station, gourmet deserts and made-to-order pizza. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Made-to-Order Pizza is available in the PwC Club. (WTOP/Kristi King)
$15.25 for a 16 ounce beer is an average price compared to similar entertainment venues in the area, President of Venues for Monumental Sports & Entertainment, David Touhey said. "So, we're not high or low compared to the average in the city." (WTOP/Kristi King)
The beer wall near section 417 offers 17 different varieties of self-serve beers. (WTOP/Kristi King)
The color of the hallway lighting can be altered for different events. (WTOP/Kristi King)
During the course of an event, food options might change for example from full meals to deserts and snacks. "Everything can flip within a matter of seconds," Liz Noe of Aramark said. All the signage in the arena is now digital. Maria Menounos' Greek Kitchen is near section 105. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Maria Menounos' Greek Kitchen is near section 105. (WTOP/Kristi King)
The MGM National Harbor VIP Lounge is in space formerly occupied by a basketball practice court. Now, it's open to Capitals and Wizards VIP seat holders. It includes full high-end food and bar wait service. (WTOP/Kristi King)
"I've been coming to this arena since I was a little kid," local Chef Alex McCoy of Lucky Buns said. The Lucky Buns menu features specialty burgers. "I can't tell you how much it means to be able to come into this arena to cook for my friends and cook for other D.C. sports fans." (WTOP/Kristi King)
"I'm a D.C. boy, born and raised," Lucky Buns owner and chef, Alex McCoy said. "I've had a lot of really good times here in this arena." Pictured with President of Venues for Monumental Sports & Entertainment, David Touhey and Aramark's Liz Noe at the unveiling of Capital One Arena’s renovated venue, food and drink experience. (WTOP/Kristi King)

No, you didn’t wander back to the wrong section

Food stalls can change themes and item options near instantaneously as part of the new digital experience at Capital One Arena.

For example, during last season’s hockey playoffs, the menu board at one spot went from Lucky Buns’ hamburgers to “Jane Dough” cookie dough desserts and boozy milkshakes.

“We flipped it in-game,” Aramark Resident District Manager at Capital One Arena Liz Noe said. “People eat differently as the night goes on. So, we don’t want a full meal at 9:30 necessarily — but we might have a craving for some dessert.”

Lights, sound, action

The $40 million dollars’ worth of upgrades includes a new sound system for sports, events and concerts. Color schemes in the concourses can change as needed. There are new ceilings, floors, TVs, twice the number of phone charging stations and more comfortable seats.

“There are the exact same number of seats,” President of Venues for Monumental Sports & Entertainment, David Touhey said.

They’re not narrower, no new seats got squeezed in. They just have new fabric and springs.

What about the cup holders?

“The cup holders now all have bottoms,” Touhey said. Some drinks used to fall through the old bottomless cup holders. “I guess in 20 years, cup holder technology has changed enough that they figured out how to put a bottom on all of them.”

Specialty burger chef: “It feels like a homecoming.”

Seeing his new stall for the first time during the renovation unveiling this week, the chef and owner of Lucky Buns gushed about how much he enjoys being at Capital One Arena.

“I’m a D.C. boy born and raised,” Alex McCoy said. “I’ve been coming to this arena since I was a little kid. I can’t tell you how much it means to be able to come into this arena to cook for my friends and cook for other D.C. sports fans.”


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