Nationals want fans to enjoy local flavors and short waits at ballpark

“As the food scene has grown in Washington, we’ve really been able to capitalize on that and bring those restaurants into the ballpark,” said Jonathan Stahl, the Nationals' vice president of experience and hospitality.
“As the food scene has grown in Washington, we’ve really been able to capitalize on that and bring those restaurants into the ballpark,” said Jonathan Stahl, the Nationals’ vice president of experience and hospitality. (WTOP/Brett Snyder)

Nationals Park will be packed full of local flavors you’ve probably tried before, just never at a ballgame.

And the emphasis will be on getting them to you as fast as possible.

“People are giving up their free time to be here, and so let’s make sure there’s a limited amount of friction in that experience,” said Jonathan Stahl, the team’s vice president of experience and hospitality.

“You’re coming from work? We want to get you in the building as quickly as possible. You came to watch baseball? Let’s get you your food and beverage back to your seat as quickly as possible.”

That means no cash will be accepted in the park this year, which also means you won’t be standing in line waiting for the guy in front of you to get change for a 20 either. Last year, almost 40% of all food and beverage orders were done through ordering on the Ballpark Mobile App. This year, the Nats hope to expand that so you won’t have to wait long, if at all.

“We’re adding more locations, making the app easier to use with filtering technology so you can choose based on where you’re sitting in the ballpark or what you’re looking for,” said Stahl. “The whole idea in everything we do is ‘How do we get you back to your seat faster?’”

No cash will be accepted inside Nationals Park this year.
No cash will be accepted inside Nationals Park this year. (WTOP/Brett Snyder)

In some cases, that means ordering on the app and having it ready to go sitting on a counter, similar to how some restaurants do their online pickup service.

It also means you might not have to wait long if you come to the park hungry, which no one will blame you for doing. Local favorites you’ll find on the menu this year include Rockland’s BBQ, Hard Times Chili, Duke’s Grocery and Roaming Rooster.

“I really think the sandwiches from Roaming Rooster are great, so if you haven’t been to one of their locations or been to one of their food trucks, I think this is a great opportunity to check it out,” said Stahl. “When you’re the baseball team in Washington, D.C., you’re a fabric of the community. So we represent all of what’s happening in the Washington area.

“As the food scene has grown in Washington, we’ve really been able to capitalize on that and bring those restaurants into the ballpark,” he added.

“Especially because we’re not just Washington, D.C. We’re Maryland and Virginia. So you may have Marylanders who don’t make it into Virginia or vice versa, so the ballpark creates this great place where they can all come in and enjoy great local fare.”

For dessert, the Nationals have brought in ice cream from South Mountain Creamery, which has become a local legend of sorts in the Montgomery-Frederick County area.

“This is a big deal,” said Tony Brusco, CEO and one of the owners and family members of South Mountain Creamery. “This is a very big deal for our family and our whole operation.”

view from seat at Nats park
We want to get you in the building as quickly as possible. You came to watch baseball? Let’s get you your food and beverage back to your seat as quickly as possible,” Stahl said. (WTOP/Brett Snyder)

He promises each cup of ice cream will be packed with the best flavors.

“All of the ingredients are clean, there’s no artificial colors, no artificial flavoring,” said Brusco. “Pure vanilla, pure chocolate cocoa in our chocolate ice cream.”

There’s no shortage of beer options, but you’ll also find cocktails from locally based Pratt Standard on the menu too, including a special cherry blossom cocktail to go with the team’s City Connect series.

“Made with sour cherry juice, green tea, rose petal, lemon juice and vodka,” said founder Tory Pratt as she shook one up. She promises you’ll find it refreshing, not hard, at a ballpark, because her drinks are less sweet than the stuff you might get at a bar, thanks in part to the freshly squeezed juices coming from their home in Northeast D.C.

“This is going to be like that porch-drinking drink that you really want to drink all evening.”

But if you’re trying to be a responsible drinker, don’t worry, there’s a non-alcoholic version, too.


Nationals’ Opening Day:


John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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