Levy offers a ‘Taste of L.A.’ at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Each year, as many as 3 million visitors come to the Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC) for conventions and trade shows. But attendees need a break from business to get a bite to eat, and that’s where Levy comes in.
The Chicago-based food and beverage company accommodates all of LACC’s food and beverage needs, and provides catering services to outside events, General Manager of Food and Beverage Matt Brown says. “We’ve provided all the food for the LACC’s 300+ annual events including the Los Angeles Auto Show, MusiCares Events and the red carpet for the annual Grammy Awards show,” he states.
Brown oversees a staff of 300 who have set out to reinvent what people eat at a tradeshow at LACC. This led to the creation of Levy’s Taste of L.A. brand, “which highlights the best of what the region has to offer,” Brown says. “It’s not the typical chicken on a plate.”
Levy’s most popular items at LACC include a crispy short rib with a Guava demi glace and Peruvian-style potatoes. “We’ve also done some unique items with some wine-poached pears using local Malibu wines,” he says.
These are a hit with tradeshow attendees, who are usually from outside the region. “When they come here, they say, ‘Hey, I want to feel what it’s like to be part of L.A.,’” Brown says. “They want to feel like that’s being brought to them.”
Levy has extensive experience serving major venues for the NBA, NFL, MLB and NASCAR, as well as the Kentucky Derby and U.S. Tennis Open. But convention centers can be very different from sports properties, Brown admits.
This requires a lot of planning and starting from the ground up for “creating a unique experience,” he says, noting that he partners closely with clients. “We have to adjust the business to accommodate those needs.”
Levy’s partnerships with local purveyors and suppliers also are critical. One such partner is Santa Monica Brew Works, which provides “fantastic, locally brewed beers that help showcase the growing craft beer selections for the L.A. area,” Brown says.
He praises the firm’s president and CEO, Scott Francis. “He’s a great guy with regard to partnering,” Brown says. “It’s really great seeing him react to our business needs and assist as needed.”
Another key supplier is Malibu Winery, which creates wines for a market that is heavily saturated by Northern California wines, Brown says. “It’s great to see a So-Cal winery that delivering such a fantastic product and representing the L.A. specific wine scene so well,”
Los Angeles-based Melissa’s Produce supplies farm fresh, local and seasonal produce to Levy. “They are just as much a part of our team as the cooks that prepare the ingredients they provide,” he says. “Their partnership with local growers is impressive.”
The company also includes Levy in the selection process by allowing it to tour different farms and distribution houses. “[That] really makes us feel like we are part of their team,” Brown says.
An Exciting Industry
It takes a certain kind of person to work in LACC’s high-energy environment. “You’ve got to have the endurance and vitality for this industry,” Brown says. “You’ll have some months where you’re here every single day and every single hall is full.”
His team was up to the task during the recent Grammy Awards MusiCares Dinner, particularly his sales associates. “It’s important to have a sales team that understands operations,” he says, adding that they also are creative. “We’re always pushing the boundaries with regards to what we can do.”
Levy plans to adapt to changes that are occurring in downtown Los Angeles, including the construction of new hotels that will boost attendance at LACC. The center itself also has some opportunities for remodels and expansions, Brown adds.
“Nothing excites me more than being a part of those special projects and getting to be a part of crafting a unique food and beverage story through new distribution locations, cafes, etc.,” he says, adding that Levy will continue offering attendees a taste of Los Angeles. “Being able to deliver that to them is important with regard to overall strategies for the future.”