2500 Buford Drive, Lawrenceville
Open since: 2009
General Manager: Adam English
Pro Sports Catering Director of Operations: Craig Phillips
Executive Chef: Fabian Torres
Location: Buford Drive, east of I-85 and Mall of Georgia
Atmosphere: Some baseball fans don’t feel like their game experience is complete without a few things — a beer and a meal.
Coolray Field this summer is opening up its offerings at concession stands around the park to target Minor League Baseball foodies. The gotta-try-them-all approach that the ball club is taking hopes to draw in fans for multiple home stands this summer so as not to miss out on the exclusive burgers at Burgertopia and specialty entrees at Flashpoint, the concession stands inside the park.
“I don’t know how long they’ll stay, but we’re looking to give them life at least through a home stand,” Pro Sports Catering Director of Operations Craig Phillips said.
While Coolray Field and its atmosphere are nothing new to Gwinnett, there is one notable space within the park that is new this year.
In February, the club announced the Slow Pour Taproom, located on the main concourse on the first-base side of Coolray Field.
The taproom features eight of Slow Pour’s signature craft brews on draft with furniture and signage that fits the brand and theme of Slow Pour’s Tasting Room location in Lawrenceville. The 15-foot movable garage door replaced what was formerly a simple draft beer station with glass windows. The taproom is full of branding to honor Baseball Hall of Famer and Atlanta Braves knuckleballer Phil Niekro, with several displays of Niekro and his accomplishments throughout his 24-year Major League career.
Menu: Phillips said there are five new burgers in rotation at Burgertopia at Coolray Field. Not all of the burgers are available simultaneously, but a select few new Coolray creations will be available during coming home stands.
All burgers include half-pound beef patties. The french onion dip burger is topped with french onion dip, potato chips and Swiss cheese. Don’t over-think the cheese fries burger. It’s exactly what it sounds like: hot, crispy fries loaded on top of a half-pound burger, topped with fresh, hot queso. The Firecracker Burger — a Fourth-of-July week special that debuted Thursday — is topped with jalapeno a jus, sliced jalapenos and Swiss cheese. The Southern Burger is dense, piled with pulled pork, topped with mango coleslaw and “Chef’s special BBQ sauce” — it’s tangy, with the flavor of peach.
“We’re very excited, and this is just the tip of the iceberg with what we’ll be able to do,” Phillips said. “As we enter the warmer months of the season, look for this to continue to rotate.
All burgers will be made fresh to order, important for some ingredients such as the grilled pineapple on the Hawaiian Burger, which is projected to debut after Fourth of July weekend.
Executive Chef Fabian Torres crafted the makeup of each of the burger and instinctually began by trying to craft items he’s never seen at any sports venue. While the Southern Burger is a tribute to Georgia’s famous fruit, he went out-of-the-box for the Hawaiian Burger.
“I went back to the old menus from the old restaurants they had here and I said, ‘I don’t really see anything that stands out as something from another state,’” Torres said. “The summer is here, let’s bring something festive, something tropical.”
The foot-long, bacon-wrapped corn dog and cinnamon pretzel present new takes on ballpark classics.
“Everybody loves bacon,” Phillips said.
Peach cobbler will also be available at the sweets stand, served with soft serve ice cream.
“All of these creations were from our executive chef, Fabian Torres, and Craig collaborating on bringing new items, unique things for our fans the community to enjoy,” Stripers General Manager Adam English said. “With the Peach Cobbler and Southern Burger, we wanted things that tied to the state of Georgia and spoke to our community.”
Something you may not know: Torres has several years of experience as a chef at professional sports venues. He was on staff at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, helping craft menus for Hawks fans.
“My first instinct was, let’s think of something I haven’t seen at State Farm Arena,” Torres said. “And something I haven’t seen here (at Coolray Field).”