ST. LOUIS – There’s a new look to the food experience at Busch Stadium with three well-known chains set to open at the ballpark next week.
Mission Taco Joint expands upon its many St. Louis area locations. Big Chicken, a franchise owned by retired NBA star Shaquille O’Neal, officially enters the St. Louis market at Busch Stadium. Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers has officially launched its first ballpark location.
All three have settled into Busch Stadium and expect to start serving customers on Opening Day.
“[The Cardinals] contacted us in the middle of the playoffs last year, and we were super excited to be considered with all the restaurants in St. Louis,” said Mission Taco Joint co-owner Jason Telford. “We had to jump on it. It’s the St. Louis Cardinals, what are you going to do?”
“We’ve got two premier locations,” said Matt Piekarski, vice president of culinary operations for Big Chicken. “We hope we get a great volume out of it and be able to introduce this brand to the St. Louis market.”
“At Busch Stadium, with the Cardinals, it’s a world-class organization, and we’re thrilled to be here,” said Andrew Thengvall, chief development officer for Freddy’s.
Mission Taco Joint
Mission Taco Joint builds upon its six St. Louis and Kansas City-area locations, including one concession stand at the Enterprise Center. The team gets a spot in Section 150, just to the right of the home-plate entrance.
Many classics will be available from Mission Taco Joint, like the Mango Shrimp taco and Vegan soft taco. The company is redeveloping some other favorite menu items to be more suitable for the ballpark, including street corn on the cob and West Coast Nachos, but with that concept built on french fries.
Exclusive to Busch Stadium will be the “Hot Corner” Chicken taco on a flour tortilla and a regular beef taco on a crispy tortilla.
“We had a couple different versions of the menu [to consider], and we went with this one,” said Telford. “We’ll start with it. It’ll change. We’ll add a taco later, make some changes. We’ll see what’s popular, and go with that.”
Telford is hopeful that Mission Taco Joint’s presence will benefit all concessions at the stadium.
“Don’t skip your old favorites, but check us out,” said Telford. “We’re the new guys here, right behind home plate, it’ll be an exciting year.
Founded in 2018, Big Chicken fuses Shaq’s home-cooked childhood favorites with several trending flavors. Customers can order crispy chicken sandwiches and tenders, along with wedge fries and shakes.
“Big Chicken is founded on the fried chicken sandwich with a natural chicken,” said Piekarski. “It’s free of antibiotics and hormones, so we believe it’s a better-for-you fried chicken. It’s a five-ounce chicken breast, so it’s larger than most people’s chicken sandwiches. We’re big fun, big food, big favor, so it’s not just a clever name, it’s big chicken, so we like to represent that in the food.”
At Busch Stadium, fans have the option for a unique St. Louis-crafted menu item. Fans can order a sandwich named the “314” after the St. Louis area code. The sandwich consist of the brand’s Nashville Hot Crispy Chicken with Shaq Sauce, and it’s served on a Cardinal Red Maple Bacon doughnut.
Two other signature sandwiches will be available in the the M.D.E., a standard chicken sandwich that includes Shaq Sauce, chicken breast and B&B Pickles, and the Uncle Jerome, Nashville-styled hot chicken sandwich with lettuce, mayonnaise and pickles. Big Chicken will also offer a cookie sized to the circumference of a basketball, of course after Shaquille O’Neal.
The Big Chicken team is hopeful Shaquille O’Neal will visit his new stands in the ballpark in the near future.
“I think at some point he’s going to make his way here,” said Vincent Marsden, owner of Vincent Van Doughnut behind the 314 Sandwich. “I think he’s kind of resting right now. But he likes to make rounds, and he likes to be part of it.”
Busch Stadium will have two Big Chicken concession stands. They will be located in section 135, along the first base line of the main concourse, and in section 358, on the third base side of the terrace level.
A popular fast food chain with more than 400 U.S. locations and 15 in the St. Louis area finds another home at Busch Stadium, its first MLB ballpark location.
Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers sits at the ballpark’s Budweiser Terrace section in right field. For fans who enjoy the settings of their burger joints, this Freddy’s inherits a location with the Gateway Arch in the background.
“We did not pick the location, but honestly in Busch Stadium is a good location,” said Thengvall.
Freddy’s will not start the season selling frozen custard at the ballpark, but the team is working on a way to bring it to the stadium for fans. The menu consists of some basic items, like a double cheeseburger, bacon cheeseburger, shoestring fries and cheese curds.
The limited menu could grow, but the idea behind it is to keep the lines moving quickly.
“We have a limited menu, so we can be quick and fast and get fans back to their seats,” said Thengvall. “We came up with this menu we though fans would enjoy, but would also be efficient and quick to serve.”