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Shining a Light On...

Bristol Rovers enjoyed a fantastic season on the pitch – but let’s go BTS at BRFC to see how other departments in the club played their part in a promotion-winning campaign.

9 June 2022

The next department in our 'Shining a Light On...' series is the club's Catering department!

Headed up by Iain Paterson, the club's Catering department has kept Gasheads fed, watered and entertained all season!

Iain said: "Whilst we can’t confess to a perfect season, I don’t think we did a bad job, and I must take this moment to recognise and thank the following staff for their support and hard work:

Mark Follett (Head Chef)

Ash Davies (Hospitality Manager)

Simon Bown (Bars Manager)

John Bown (Assistant Bars Manager)

Lewis Paterson (Retail Catering Supervisor)

Laura Scott (Retail Catering Supervisor)

Kelly Harris-Wiltshire (Players Profile Chef)

Sarah Peace (Players Dining Assistant/Hospitality Supervisor)

David Highfield (Players Dining Assistant)

"The first challenge for the catering department was that of players feeding. It had been decided that the players would now be eating at The Quarters Training ground in Almondsbury, even though there was no kitchen in place. This meant that food would be made at The Mem and then transported to the training ground in thermal food boxes.

"Barring a few hiccups (and spillages!!), the players were fed every day and everything went well. As September arrived, a full-spec kitchen was given the green light to be built and recruitment could begin to bring in a full-time chef, who would work alongside James ‘Carbs’ Aitken (Club Nutritionist) to ensure that the players were getting the ultimate fuel!

"I recruited Kelly Harris-Wiltshire from Swindon Town in January and, to this day, I believe she was the signing of the season! The food Kelly produces is easily Championship-standard, and it is by no means a coincidence that the player's performance on the pitch improved dramatically at the same time!

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"Just as was the case with Joey’s boys, we got stronger as the season unfolded, resulting in record catering/bar sales on Saturday 7th May!"

Let's look at some of those figures...

Average bar sales for the 2021/22 season saw a 25% increase compared to 2019/20 season.

Kiosk sales also saw growth in 2021/22 compared to 2019/20, with an 18% increase in average matchday sales.

For those who like their statistics, some key numbers of items sold from last season:

75,000 pints of beer

40,000 pasties/pies

13,000 bars of chocolate

4,500 Bovrils

The 2021/22 season also saw some additions to the supporter matchday experience, with the introduction of The Liquor Box bar in the South-West corner and the Fanzone.

The Fanzone was probably the success story of the season (off the pitch) and has gone from strength to strength. It opened in November, with an intention to improve the matchday experience by offering live music, a bar and food outlets. The food outlets have varied over the season; however, the arrival of Jerk King in April went down very well, and I am pleased to confirm that they will be present at all matches for the 2022/23 season. The success of the Fanzone was confirmed on Saturday 7th May, when it sold approximately 3,000 pints on the day!

Before the 2021/22 season finished, we were already looking toward next season and seeing where we could improve the fan experience. Here are some of the main points:

- The Fanzone will return in 2022/23 bigger and better. We will be introducing a bigger bar and making the whole area look more professional, befitting of a League One club!

- We have recognised that we should be providing a bar service for away fans, especially as there will be some big away followings next season. As a result, we will be putting a Marquee Bar in the away end to encourage away supporters to stay at the ground on arrival. Whilst it doesn’t affect Gasheads, we see it as an additional income stream that can only benefit the club.

- The offer in Irene’s Kitchen is being reviewed and the menu will be revamped for the 2022/23 season with a more modern offer!

- After a Fans' Tasting Evening and Pie-nalty shootout, I am pleased to confirm that our new supplier for the next three years will be... The Phat Pasty Company. Phat are an award-winning company that make their pasties in Cornwall and have recently gained contracts at Sheffield Wednesday, Southampton and Plymouth Argyle. Whilst the competition was close, Phat’s ultimately ticked the boxes with their offer, which included a good selection of Vegan products and also a Gluten-Free pie.

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Iain Paterson said: "As some of you may be aware, I started a Twitter account in February, which enables me to give up-to-date information on all things catering/bars, as well as Fanzone info, including upcoming bands, food options and more. I also advertised the Fans' Pie-Tasting event on Twitter and will be looking to do more Fan Events in the future."

Please feel free to follow our Head of Catering Iain Paterson on Twitter if you want to be kept up-to-date with what’s going on within the club, when it comes to Food and Drink: @IainPat1883

Email: iainpaterson@bristolrovers.co.uk

 

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