Sal Dellomo remembers what the concession stand used to look like back in 1987, when he graduated Ocean Township High School.
“It was so bad when I was in high school,” said Dellomo, whose 7-year-old son, Joey, stood by his side chowing down on what he described as “the best cheese fries ever,” giving them a score of 10 on a 1-to-10 scale. “In the old concession stand, they used to have a hot plate for a cooker. Now, it’s totally different.”
The Spartan Snack Bar, operated by the Booster Club and managed by Don and Maureen Clare, apparently has garnered a bunch of fans over the years, as Asbury Park Press readers voted Ocean’s concession stand to be the best in the Shore Conference during a recent online poll.
In a really tight race, Ocean, which drew 25.5 percent of the vote, edged Matawan with 25.2 percent. Rumson-Fair Haven was a close third with 23.6 percent of the vote, followed by Neptune’s 14.3 percent and Keansburg’s 11.4 percent.
“They’ve done a nice job improving it over the years,” Dellomo said. “It’s nice. It’s clean. You can see them cooking the food. And the food’s gotten a lot better.”
With a menu that includes the traditional hot dogs, hamburgers and pretzels, the Spartan Snack Bar features a whole line of delicious items, such as the sausage, pepper and onion and pulled pork sandwiches, chicken tenders, mozzarella sticks and nachos. Many of the main food items are available in combination platters, which include french fries and a drink.
But the best item on the menu just may be the new kid on the block for this year — fried ravioli, which is served with marinara sauce.
“They should have buckets of these things, like KFC has with its chicken,” Dellomo said. “I definitely can eat a bucket of these. They’re delicious.”
In addition to good food, the Spartan Snack Bar features a number of tasty treats to satisfy those with a sweet tooth, including specialty treats from To Good To Be Treats, a small business started by Karyn Kinhofer and Loraine Pingitore nearly a year ago.
Some of the treats showing up in the Spartan Snack Bar include chocolate covered pretzels, milk and white chocolate-dipped Double Stuff Oreos and a concoction known as the “Magic Bar,” a chewy treat consisting of coconut, chocolate chips and butterscotch chips on a graham cracker crust.
“We put in about 10 to 15 hours a week making these treats,” said Kinhofer, who has been working the fryer along with Jim Blackwood, aka “The Mad Fryer,” this season. “We’ve been doing these for weddings, baby showers, sports banquets and corporate platters, so it’s nice to be able to offer them here and have the football crowd enjoy them as well.”
The rest of the volunteers who keep the Spartan Snack Bar in full swing for each home game includes Dudley Warner, Ralph English, Diane Nagy, Lori Wilson, Carolyn Bekampis and Carolyn Dunkley, as well as student helpers Madyson Hawes, Andrew Dombrowiecki, Michele King and McKenzie Clare.
During a four-hour period, Don Clare estimates that the Spartan Snack Bar goes through some 130 hamburgers, 100 hot dogs, 10 pounds of pulled pork, 24 each of the sausage, pepper and onion and meatball sandwiches, and 180 pounds of french fries. He also said the concession stand sells about 250 bottles of water, another 150 bottles of either Vitamin water or Powerade and 190 cans of Coca-Cola products. If it’s cold, 120 cups of hot chocolate is about the average.
“To date, the best night one of my crews has had was just shy of $4,000 in sales,” he said. “Sales vary depending on the weather, our opponent and the success of our season. As for the cost to operate the concession stand for a season, or five home games, it’s generally about $4,500, which includes food, condiments and incidentals.”
Clare said the hard work put in by all the volunteers is invaluable to the success of the Spartan Snack Bar.
“Volunteers are hard to come by these days,” he said. “We appreciate all the help and dedication of all our volunteers, because we know it’s not easy to give up that time they could be spending doing something else. We have a great crew of people here.”
With two more years left to manage the concession stand, Clare believes bringing in something new each season will continue to be a trademark of how he and his wife manage the operation, mostly with regard to serving the fans and maintaining a safe, clean environment.
“From a food service standpoint, our first priority is to make sure we properly and safely serve the food, and then provide food that tastes good,” said Clare, who doesn’t have a background in food service but has a friend, Joe Ciccone, who is a chef and has a restaurant background, with whom he credits for helping him with any questions or ideas has has.
“We feel strongly about creating a maintaining a place that is both fun for the volunteers and where those attending the games can eat something, first that they’d want to eat, and second have a variety of quality products to choose from. Heck, we even have yogurt.”