“The days of stale pretzels and dirty water dogs are over,” Pat LaFrieda Jr. declared at Citi Field this week, during an event to promote the specialty menu for this year’s All-Star Game.
LaFrieda, the current co-owner of Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors, would know. After all, this is the man whose beef blend has New Yorkers flocking to the Minetta Tavern to pay $26 for a burger.
LaFrieda is here to promote several menu items, including his grandfather’s sweet Italian sausage sandwich. But the real showstopper is his Original Filet Mignon Steak Sandwich, a savory and much-improved take on a ballpark classic that will remain available at the stadium even after the All-Star game.
It’s made from LaFrieda’s 100% Black Angus hand-cut beef and served Au Jus on a fresh-baked and toasted French baguette. Vermont Monterey Jack cheese and sautéed Vidalia onions top it off to near perfection.
It’s without a doubt one of the best things I’ve ever tasted, but it’s pricey for stadium food. Will the average Mets fan really shell out $15 for a sandwich?
LaFrieda certainly seems to think so.
“Last season we started selling the sandwich with about 30 days left in the season,” he says. “and we still ended up selling 10,000 sandwiches.”
That’s over 300 steak sandwiches per day, a significant number when you consider that last season the Mets lost more games than they won, and missed the post-season for a 6th straight year. But if LaFrieda is at all surprised, he doesn’t show it.
“It’s filet mignon,” he says, shrugging, in the same way that Anna Wintour might say “it’s Chanel.”
“People already pay, like, 10 bucks for a plain hot dog. I absolutely believe they’ll pay $15 for this sandwich.”
He’s right about the hot dogs: CNN reports that fans at Citi Field pay more for hot dogs than any other baseball fans in the country, with an ordinary hot dog costing nearly $7. It’s easy to see how fans would be willing to pay a little extra for some of the highest-quality meat in New York.
LaFrieda’s company has over 1,000 customers, including New York mainstays like Blue Smoke, The Spotted Pig and Market Table. LaFrieda has had a partnership with ARAMARK, the official food and beverage company of the Mets, since 2009, and they now have their own meat freezer and chop house within the stadium complex.
Besides the quality of the sandwich, LaFrieda’s success is also clearly driven by a strong understanding of the crowd he’s looking to serve.
“The concessions area at a Mets game is a social scene,” LaFrieda says, gesturing towards the field with a huge hand. “People come out to a game for the full experience, food included. They want to eat something decent.”
It looks like Pat LaFrieda’s going to give the people what they want.
We recently visited Pat LaFrieda’s NJ processing facility. Check out the video:
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