It’s a slam dunk: Barclays Center brings new locally-owned eateries to the arena

Barclays Center celebrated the launch of this season's tasty new food selections.
Barclays Center has brought in a new selection of tasty local food offerings.
Photo courtesy of BSE

Barclays Center introduced a new batch of local eateries to the arena this season, bringing tasty locally-made cuisine and long-time fan favorites to the popular venue. 

The upgrades came through the arena’s Brooklyn Taste program, a system that works to integrate Brooklyn businesses into the massive entertainment venue.

With everything from jerk chicken and plantains from Likkle More Jerk, jerk tacos from Wah Gwann, burgers from Paisanos Butcher Shop and authentic Mexican tacos from Nenes Taqueria, fans are sure to find a bite they’ll enjoy. The arena also offers Brooklyn classics like Nathan’s Famous hot dogs, Junior’s cheesecakes and even a built-out Brooklyn-style bodega with chips, snacks, and bodega favorites like Arizona iced teas. 

Basketball fans can enjoy the game with bellies full of jerk tacos, burgers, pizza and whatever else they can dream of.
Basketball fans can enjoy the game with bellies full of jerk tacos, burgers, pizza and more. Photo courtesy of BSE

Chris Giacalone, head of food and beverage for Barclays Center, said spotlighting local businesses in the arena has long been a goal, but it wasn’t until after the pandemic that the team began to bring Brooklyn eateries into Barclays Center.

“It’s safe to say when the building opened, our Brooklyn Taste program was something that we thought would be really cool but it’s evolved,” he said. “It’s something we’ve all become just so passionate about and finding our local partners, watching them grow — grow with us [and] grow with each other. Tt makes us better.”

Let's talk about all the tasty options at Barclays Center.
Barclays brings in new local vendors each year through their Brooklyn Taste program.Photo courtesy of BSE

After the pandemic, Giacalone and his team introduced the Brooklyn Market, a smorgasbord-type area within Barclays featuring a rotating selection of local and minority-owned restaurants. 

The market gives guests a chance to try something new while investing in their community. It also gives shop owners a chance to expand their business and maybe even get a permanent stand at Barclays.

“The amount of work that goes into partnering with, getting insurance for, helping with contract language with these partners, it’s so much work. We can make these white label stands [and] run them ourselves and really just have an easy go at it but it wouldn’t be the true nature of what we’re trying to do here,” Giacalone told Brooklyn Paper.

Fans can shop Brooklyn favorites and locally made snacks at Barclays.
Fans can shop Brooklyn favorites and locally-made snacks at Barclays Center. Photo courtesy of BSE

When it comes to finding who to bring into the marketplace, shop owners can apply to try to be a vendor — and the food and beverage team takes to the streets to vet new vendors.

“We just beat the streets. We’ll go out to lunch and say let’s try something new. It happens super organically [and] it happens through design,” Giacalone said. “We’re helping them along, getting them a little more business savvy, helping with the contract language. All those things help develop their skills as business owners and really just make us feel awesome about our food program.”