Hospitality: The Team Behind Your Beloved Chicken Baskets
As an arena full of determined dancers, busy committee members, and thousands of enthusiastic spectators, it’s no surprise that the Bryce Jordan Center houses some starving individuals during THON weekend. Luckily, the BJC is ready to please. Armed and ready with chicken baskets, fries, popcorn, and various other goodies, the concession stands on the concourse are ready for battle.
Though many THON attendees prefer to bring their own snacks or head out for a heartier meal outside the BJC, plenty of Penn Staters are more than happy to settle for the classic concession stand snacks.
Bobbi Benson, a current freshman and hospitality committee member, spends much of her time at THON working at Concession Stand 300, right by Portal 25. Bubbly and ready to please, Benson works as a regular in the Bryce Jordan Center for concessions during concerts and other events, not just during THON – making her a true veteran. Her hospitality committee switches between concession stand shifts and on-floor meal shifts, where they directly supply food to those dancing.
Benson explains that Concession Stand 300 is rather low-key compared to larger, mega-popular sister-stand, Concession Stand 700, over on the other side of the concourse by Portal 5.
“Concession Stand 700 definitely gets the most traffic. Concession Stand 300 is relaxed in comparison.”
Though some stands are larger than others, they essentially supply the same goods. Chicken tenders, fries, popcorn, hot dogs, and candy are classic favorites on the menu – similar to football games in Beaver Stadium. These stands, however, also specialize in breakfast foods such as bagels, fruit, and muffins, giving the BJC a full spectrum of variety when it’s meal time.
“Chicken tenders sell like CRAZY,” she explained. “Sometimes we have people waiting ten or fifteen minutes, just for a chicken basket. It’s insane.”
Working in hospitality, Benson has had her share of picky and impatient customers. She shared that people frequently complain about the hot dogs – insisting they “aren’t cooked right.”
“I mainly work the register. I have no control over the hot dogs or most of the food – yet I still get a lot of blame for it!” she said.
Benson’s misadventures don’t stop at the concession stands, however. While on her shifts on the floor, she often prepares peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the mass crowds of dancers.
“For the most part people are really nice and pleasant,” she said. “But yesterday I had a girl insist I smear her bread with exactly half strawberry jelly and half grape jelly. It was ridiculous.”
Though she may come into contact with a few grumpy dancers or patrons, Benson loves her role in the hospitality committee and as a concession worker for the Bryce Jordan Center.
“Overall it’s a ton of fun, and you get to interact with all types of people.”
So there you have it. A little back story behind the back burners of your prized hot dogs and chicken tenders. Next time you pick up a snack at the Bryce Jordan Center, take some time to chat with and appreciate the crew behind the tasty goodness.