Nationals Park announced last week that it was cutting ties with Mike Isabella in light of sexual harassment allegations detailed in a lawsuit from a former top employee. But even before the news, the stadium only planned to bring back one of the restaurateur’s three concession stands, a branch of G sandwich shop. They’re still working on a replacement.
According to Jonathan Stahl, VP of Ballpark Operations and Guest Experience, Nationals Park previously decided to replace an outpost of Kapnos as well as Isabella’s Southern-style eatery Catchfly with Change-Up Chicken (serving chicken kebabs) and Old Hickory BBQ. Both already had a presence elsewhere in the stadium.
The decision, Stahl says, was based on “fan feedback.” Stahl explains they’d hoped Isabella’s “specialty and niche concepts” would bring new people up to the gallery level, but they have since decided it’s best to move specialty concepts to smaller, portable carts that require less infrastructure. “We were working to put some more standard ballpark fare up there,” he says.
As for G sandwich shop, Stahl says they plan to have something new ready for opening day, April 5. “We’re pretty excited about what it ultimately will become, but I can’t talk about it yet because it’s still in the works,” he says.
Isabella has pushed back against the sexual harassment allegations and the subsequent fallout. “We are disappointed that our partnership with the Nationals is currently suspended because of these false allegations, but I hope once the full story has been told, and my name cleared, that we will get the privilege to serve Nationals fans in our great community again,” Isabella said in a statement to Eater last week.
When we asked Stahl if he would describe the situation as a “suspension,” as Isabella did, another spokesperson chimed in: “We’ll stick to our original statement.” That statement said the Nationals had decided to “end our partnership.”
“We just have a zero-tolerance policy as an organization, and with the allegations, we felt it was the best decision to make,” Stahl says.
Stay tuned for more about other new offerings at Nationals Park.