Catering to their needs: Why Centerplate was picked to feed the St. John's Convention Centre

City hall has decided to let Connecticut-based Centerplate control the food and beverage needs of the St. John's Convention Centre.

American company says it will look for local suppliers and staff

U.S.-based Centerplate has won the right to provide catering at the St. John's Convention Centre. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

City hall has decided to let Connecticut-based Centerplate control the food and beverage needs of the St. John's Convention Centre. 

The switch from former caterers Delta Hotel is a move that council hopes will attract more clients to the downtown St. John's facility. 

"It's very important to us, moving forward," Coun. Sandy Hickman said. "This steps us up into a much higher level in the national and international convention business." 

The councillor said five bids were submitted to the city of St. John's. 

"The local ones were all from unbelievably reputable companies that do a great job. [But] they don't have the experience doing huge events and have never been involved in a convention centre before," said Hickman, who noted that the contract is going from one American company to another.

Coun. Sandy Hickman says local companies submitted good bids but they just don't have the necessary experience. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

Centerplate is currently operating in more than 300 meeting and convention centres across North America, with several in Canada including Scotiabank Centre arena in Halifax. 

"We are always looking to gain work in more venues," Centerplate's communication director Paul Pettas told CBC.

"When the opportunity came to bid on the St. John's Convention Centre, we were interested. Mainly because we have a strong operation already throughout Canada."

Pettas said Centerplate staff are already on the ground in St. John's and working to be ready when it takes the contract over on May 31.

"[They are] determining how to hire locals and work with local partners from the St. John's area so that our food and beverage program in the convention centre is as local as possible," he said over the phone from Connecticut.

Hickman said the decision to hire Centerplate was an easy one for council.

"We are so positive on this. It's hard to underestimate the value of this," he said.

The 10-year contract will encompass all food and beverage services for events at the St. John's Convention Centre, beginning June 1.