Cedar Fair designates new corporate VP for food service

Posted Monday, March 26, 2012 9:18 AM | Contributed by Jeff

[Ed. note: The following is an excerpt of a press release. -J]

Cedar Fair (NYSE: FUN), a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and active entertainment, today announced Craig Grimes as the Company's Corporate Vice President, Food Service -- a newly created position.

In this new role, Grimes will be responsible for enhancing the guest experience at the Company's parks by ensuring high quality and consistency in the production and delivery of food service items throughout the Cedar Fair system. He will also develop and introduce innovative new concepts and processes, establish ongoing training programs for the Food Service teams, monitor safety and health compliance, and oversee the selection of Food Service products and equipment.

"We are thrilled to have Craig join our team," said Richard Zimmerman, Cedar Fair's chief operating officer. "Our focus is to provide our guests with a high-quality food service experience at our parks and we believe Craig has the ideal combination of food service knowledge and management expertise to lead this initiative. I am confident Craig will be an asset to our operations and to everyone who dines at a Cedar Fair park."

Grimes has more than 20 years of experience in the hospitality management industry, including 14 years with Levy Restaurants, where he most recently served as a Regional Vice President. Prior to joining Levy Restaurants he served as a District Manager at Lone Star Steakhouse.

Read the entire press release from Cedar Fair.

Monday, March 26, 2012 9:21 AM
Jeff's avatar

This is another example of where Ouimet thinks differently. The old regime wouldn't have bothered with a senior level position like this because it's not a roller coaster. Yet, I can't think of any aspect of the parks that has been in more dire need of vision and leadership.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Monday, March 26, 2012 9:48 AM
rollergator's avatar

Amen - the only Cedar Fair park that comes to mind as having even "decent" food, other than during events, would have been Knotts...and we know not to blame CF for that, LOL. ;)

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Monday, March 26, 2012 9:51 AM
Jeff's avatar

CP has had improvements the last few years in some locations, but the service hasn't gotten any better. The guy who made those improvements was sent to KI, which is in dire need of some real restaurants, so I have high hopes for things down there.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Monday, March 26, 2012 10:35 AM

I am not sure if I am representative of the norm, but I am ok with paying big bucks for food in a park setting as long as it is good and well prepared. Nothing pisses me off more than paying premium for manufactured food for the masses…an example is the typical $15 Pa Pa John Pizza found in Six Flags Parks that I can get up the road from my house for ½ the price.

I think that BGW nailed it a long time ago with their Trappers Smoke House joint (whatever it is called). It has been years since I have been back to BGW, but from what I remember, dropping $15-$20 for a lunch plate there was the norm. However the meal was absolutely delicious and in my mind worth the premium price. I go to about a half dozen Yankee games a year and every time I go to Yankee Stadium I get a Lobel's Prime Rib Sandwich. We all know that everything in New York is expensive, but at $19, it is probably the most expensive sandwich you will ever eat. But it is unbelievably good so I don’t mind paying the ridiculous price for it. Same goes for a park like Epcot, especially the sit down restaurants. Yes, you are going to pay a premium, but I have never had a bad meal there.

In the end, charge me what you want, I have no problem paying premium, but it better be a darn good meal…that’s all I ask!

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Monday, March 26, 2012 10:41 AM
Jeff's avatar

BGW was the first place outside of Disney that I could remember that blew me away with food, though I haven't been there in years either. I also agree that I can accept some degree of ridiculousness at the parks in terms of cost, but only if it's good stuff.

I think of it this way. If you offer french fries for four bucks, and they only cost you .25 to make, doubling the cost still results in a huge margin. If it results in better food, why wouldn't you do that?


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Monday, March 26, 2012 10:45 AM
Tekwardo's avatar

Disney, Dollyfood, BGW, all great places to eat. Not cheap, but no body cares as much when the food is good.


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Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

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Monday, March 26, 2012 10:54 AM

I can't think of any aspect of the parks that has been in more dire need of vision and leadership.

Quoted for truth.

Jeff got to this, but the other comments haven't yet: it's not just about quality. There also has to be halfway decent service. For example, the food at Pinks at CP is really pretty good. But, the service is positively GLACIAL...so horrible that if there are more than 1-2 people in line, I won't even go inside. It's clear that no one has given the staff there the first bit of attention in how to keep the line moving, and no one makes it a priority. That happens all over Cedar Point, and it's a leadership issue for sure.


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Monday, March 26, 2012 11:10 AM
RPM's avatar

And whats ironic is that CP is very good at moving people through the attractions. It has always been an odd blind spot that they didn't see the value in doing for the entire park. Glad its starting to change. Maybe I'm just getting old. but I'm more excited about these kind of improvements then some big new ride.

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Monday, March 26, 2012 11:27 AM
LostKause's avatar

I'll believe that Cedar Fair cares about good food with fast-moving food lines when I see it. It's been a problem for so long that it's going to take a lot of hard work to fix it. We have heard that it was going to be fixed over and over for so long now that this story just doesn't get me excited at all.

It can be done, as BGW and Dollywood shows.


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Monday, March 26, 2012 11:29 AM
Morté615's avatar

This is one position that I feel should have been created right after acquiring the Paramount Parks. There are a few other positions that I think are still on the way also.

Having these positions at a local level is fine when you only have a few parks. But when you get to the scale that Cedar Fair is at now, you can leverage a much greater buying power (IE cheaper product) as well as consolidating a lot of functions that can then be distributed throughout the chain.

Also this offers a chance for the company to make sure EVERY park is up to the same standard. I just hope they don't take it too far and head into the cookie cutter approach where every park has the same items and restaurants!


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Monday, March 26, 2012 11:37 AM
LostKause's avatar

I wouldn't mind a cookie cutter approach at all if it means that every park has good food and fast service.


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Monday, March 26, 2012 11:42 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Brian Noble said:
Jeff got to this, but the other comments haven't yet: it's not just about quality. There also has to be halfway decent service. For example, the food at Pinks at CP is really pretty good. But, the service is positively GLACIAL...so horrible that if there are more than 1-2 people in line, I won't even go inside. It's clear that no one has given the staff there the first bit of attention in how to keep the line moving, and no one makes it a priority. That happens all over Cedar Point, and it's a leadership issue for sure.

You nailed it. This is actually my greatest issue with CF food. The service blows...and, like you said, it's all the parks.

I don't find the quality or pricing out of line for amusement park fare. It's pretty middle-of-the-road in that sense. Bleh food at inflated prices. You'll find that more places than not.

It's the crap-assed service that's been on a steady decline for a decade now. Just when you think it can't get worse, they find a way to prove me wrong.


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Monday, March 26, 2012 11:57 AM

LostKause said:
I wouldn't mind a cookie cutter approach at all if it means that every park has good food and fast service.

And tasty cookies.


The amusement park rises bold and stark..kids are huddled on the beach in a mist

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Monday, March 26, 2012 12:41 PM
rollergator's avatar

Having spent considerable time at Disney in 2011, I'll say that the food surcharge is consderably less than it typically is at SF/CF parks...

The quality of the Disney food is "as advertised".

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Monday, March 26, 2012 12:42 PM

Levy is the company that owns/operates the Fulton's Crab House and Portobello in Downtown Disney which I'd guess is the connection with Ouimet.

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Monday, March 26, 2012 1:10 PM

I think that Knotts gets a pass for their food because it's part of their heritage, not because it's any good.

Their chicken is overcooked & under-seasoned. Bland mashed potatoes complement canned veggies.

I can't think of anything in the park that would hold a candle to the food at BGW or WDW, not to mention Dollywood or SDC.

I had the chicken plate at Cordelia's just a few days ago, and I'd much rather have had *anything* from KFC, and not just because of price (charging $12.99 at lunch for a drumstick & thigh, with mashed potatoes & canned kernel corn -- outside the park, mind you -- just goes to show the power of ritual versus the power of well executed food).

It's a real head-scratcher to me to see anyone coming to Knotts only to eat at the CDR outside the gates. Why bother with all that hassle? Crowds, parking, etc., only to get something so pedestrian that you might as well hit up your local supermarket instead?

Maybe it was good back in the day, but for the last 20 years that I've been frequenting the park, it's simply below average. It's a telling phrase to say that the best food on property at KBF is the TGI Fridays. Especially since Disneyland has the likes of Brennan's Jazz Kitchen just down the street.

/m


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Monday, March 26, 2012 1:22 PM
Pete's avatar

This is a great move, and it shows how Oiumet is interested in guests enjoying the entire park experience, not just the roller coasters.

At CP, I actually found Pink's pretty decent at moving people, much better than your typical walk-up stand like Burger Patio for example. Pink's and Donut Time both seem to be fairly well run compared to your typical CP fast food location.


I'd rather be in my boat with a drink on the rocks, than in the drink with a boat on the rocks.

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Monday, March 26, 2012 4:44 PM

This is really good news. My home park is CW and we really just eat before or after the park because the food service is so bad.

I'd have no problem paying through the nose for something that was decent. But currently you pay through the nose for a product that is terrible and served up slowly.

Last memory of getting an order of onion rings at "You Go Grill". There were at least a dozen employees working behind the counter, most of them standing around doing nothing. It mysteriously took about 20 minutes to get an order of onion rings. Finally rings arrived and were served in a cup with about a half inch of grease pooled at the bottom. That experience is a great reminder when hunger strikes in the park.

Aside from serving people expensive crap, I hope there's some revelation that time is money in a theme park experience. People don't want to have to spend an hour to be served overpriced crap.

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Monday, March 26, 2012 5:08 PM

Dumb question, but I have racked my brain and can't seem to remember what BGW means.

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