Baseball stadium food is evolving beyond peanuts and corn dogs. Fuku, an emerging fried chicken concept, will soon be available at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York. With 15 locations and counting, Fuku was created by chef David Chang, who launched the restaurant as a fast-casual spin-off of his famed culinary brand, Momofuku Noodle Bar.

A mere two weeks after joining Fuku as its new CEO, Claudia Lezcano teased her plans of leaning into the brand’s New York heritage in a previous interview with QSR; the first Fuku location debuted in New York City’s East Village in 2015. Lezcano’s plans are now starting to come to fruition as Fuku announced its new three-year partnership with the MLB’s New York Yankees and its stadium operator, Legends Hospitality.

“I joined in the fall, and we worked in partnership with the Yankees team and the Legends team and made it come together very quickly,” Lezcano says, “I would say in the last 90 days or so, because of their excitement of bringing in Fuku, an iconic brand, into Yankee Stadium. So I think it was just a really great match of two brands.”

Starting on March 30—opening day at Yankee Stadium versus the San Francisco Giants—Fuku will be serving up fan favorites such as the O.G. Sando, a crispy Habanero-brined chicken breast with Fuku mayo, a pickle, and a potato roll, waffle fries, chicken tenders, and more at a concession stand in Section 213. Fuku food will also be available as part of suite holder menus at the stadium.

Plus, Fuku’s culinary team is meeting with Legends Hospitality chefs Matt Gibson and James Dheron to create some customized products exclusively for Yankee Stadium, Lezcano notes. Legends Hospitality was formed in 2008 as a joint venture between Yankee Global Enterprises and Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys as a food, beverage, and stadium operations catering brand serving entertainment venues and companies.

“That’ll come a little bit further down [the line], but we’re excited to have these collaborations with the concessions chefs to create something that is even more specific,” she says. Lezcano, a marketing expert with previous ties to Burger King and Church’s Chicken, also served as the vice president and CMO of another MLB team in 2016—the Miami Marlins. 

This isn’t Fuku’s first foray into stadium dining. The brand opened a stand in Citi Field—home field of the MLB’s New York Mets in Queens—in spring of 2016, as well as in Madison Square Garden, the Miami Dolphins’ Hard Rock Stadium, and Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, home of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and WNBA’s New York Liberty.

“So this really, for us being New York-born, is kind of a perfect way to have all of the New York—at least Manhattan—stadiums and concessions represented in a great way,” Lezcano says.

A Picture Of Arby's Wagyu Steakburger

“We’re looking at long-term partnerships that really kind of help us continue to grow Fuku,” she adds, from traditional brick-and-mortar eateries to unique venues. The brand will soon be entering the Las Vegas market with a “very large” concession partner who recently signed, Lezcano hints.

Fuku also has locations in New York, California, Florida, Delaware, North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio, Washington, and Texas, including storefronts at iconic spots such as Hudson Yards and Rockefeller Center and in non-traditional spaces such as food halls.

Though Fuku’s growth this year has consisted of about 70 percent concession stand and 30 percent brick-and-mortar locations, Lezcano notes it will be more of an even split moving forward. 

“Coming from the restaurant business, our operations are great; I want them to be excellent,” she says. “So we will begin the eateries and building the restaurants once the ones that we have now are perfect. They’re an A, and I want them to be that A-plus.”

The brand is also looking at various locations in New York to launch and operate satellite kitchens, which will tap into delivery markets not currently covered by the brand’s two eateries. (As opposed to ghost kitchens, Fuku will operate the satellites itself.)

New menu items on the horizon

One of Fuku’s clear differentiators is culinary innovation, especially creating menu items customized for certain events or venues. 

“We worked also with the chefs at the Hard Rock Stadium at Levy, and we’re working on innovating a Fuku Sando Cubano, so a Cuban version of the Fuku sandwich, for the Miami F1 race that is coming in May,” Lezcano says. “So I think that’s something that our concessions partners are really enjoying, is how do we work with their culinary teams to create something that is very customized for the event that is taking place, but still true to our brand.”

Additionally, Fuku will be launching new menu offerings in 2023. During the second quarter, the brand will debut the Japanese Curry Sando with white or dark meat, Japanese curry, hashbrown, carrot, ginger slaw, and a bun, plus the Fuku Sando Cubano in partnership with CenterPlate and Hard Rock chefs for the Miami Open.

Southern Grounds Features A Sizable Food Menu Featuring Breakfast And Brunch, Hot Items, Tartines (French Open Faced Sandwiches), Cold Sandwiches And Wraps, Salads And Soups, And A Kid’s Menu

During Q3 of 2023, Fuku will release a Marinated Cucumber Salad. And in partnership with Choy Division—a diversified, Asian-owned vegetable farm in Queens—Fuku will launch a Fritto Misto with fried pickles, onions, mushrooms, and Japanese eggplant, with all ingredients sourced locally from Choy Division.

“We wanted to lean into the Asian-inspired a little bit more,” Lezcano says. “So these are kind of the innovative taste profiles that are not what you get from a typical spicy fried chicken sandwich. So that’s something that we’re listening and we’re hearing the feedback and we’re innovating around that.”

“Claudia has already made exceptional progress since joining Fuku last Fall—fostering a culture of innovation and operational excellence that’s helped take the brand to new heights,” says Uday Ahuja, chief investment officer of RSE Ventures, whose portfolio includes Fuku as well as David Chang’s renowned culinary brand Momofuku, Milk Bar, &pizza, Magnolia Bakery, and Australian-inspired lifestyle and hospitality brand Bluestone Lane, among others.

“Today’s news speaks to the strength of Fuku’s reputation and growing foothold in the broader New York sports market,” Ahuja added in a statement. “Claudia’s outstanding leadership over these past five months has built a solid foundation for continued growth across both new and existing communities. We believe Fuku will continue to thrive under her direction as CEO, and we look forward to supporting this next chapter with the iconic New York Yankees.”

Web Exclusives