The 2016 NCAA Basketball Tournament is finally here and people are asking: What's a tiki hut doing at a basketball tournament?
Consumers are used to seeing the number of gluten-free products expand on store shelves and restaurant menus. Now, gluten-free offerings are cropping up at sports stadiums and other entertainment centers, as the venues increasingly seek to recruit food and beverage vendors to satisfy the dietary demands of ticket holders.
Evidence of the trend is a growing number of agreements in sports arenas with local franchise owners of Maui Wowi Hawaiian Coffees and Smoothies, a leader in the mobile concessionaire space that offers all-natural, gluten-free, fresh fruit smoothies, and gourmet Hawaiian coffee.
The tiki-style carts and kiosks are becoming a familiar site at multiple sports arenas, including the Wells Fargo Center (Philadelphia), NRG Stadium (Houston), Red Rocks Amphitheatre & Coors Field (Denver), and Xcel Energy Center & Target Center (St. Paul and Minneapolis), and hundreds of festivals, farmer's markets and other entertainment venues around the country. The company's 200-plus franchisees operate a total of 450 units around the world.
"Stadiums are an ideal place for our carts and kiosks," says Maui Wowi Hawaiian brand president, Mike Weinberger. "Not only are we satisfying the needs of the gluten-free crowd, but a significant share of our customer base are families who want to give their kids a delicious, high-quality smoothie as a healthier alternative treat at the games and events."
The mobile concession units serve up good for the local economy, too: Every Maui Wowi Hawaiian cart, kiosk, or store location is owned and operated by a local small business owner. The franchised locations create jobs and opportunities in their local communities and empower small business owners to give back to local organizations and charities.