The new Nassau Coliseum accommodates some 14,000 people, and all of them seemed to have arrived hungry on Wednesday night, when Billy Joel inaugurated the renovated arena.
Evan Mogelefsky of Merrick said he had come early to eat, but hadn’t anticipated the crowds. “They all had long lines, I just hopped onto Smokin’ Al’s.” A customer who had just paid when Mogelefsky was about 50 people away from the cashier said he had waited about 25 minutes.
All of the food vendors at NYCB Live’s Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum were beset by crowds, making the concourse about as easy to negotiate as a rush-hour subway platform.
The vendors had to devise strategies to serve thousands of customers in the 90-minute window between the doors opening at 6:30 p.m. and Billy Joel launching into “Miami 2017” at 8:20 p.m. (By his third number, “All for Leyna,” most of the lines had cleared.)
Smokin’ Al’s did its smoking at the mother ship in Massapequa; sandwiches of pulled pork and brisket were assembled to order. Umberto’s pizzas, served in a beer garden near the main entrance — the only venue with seats — had been made in New Hyde Park and shipped frozen to the Coliseum.
Along with Umberto’s and Smokin’ Al’s, other local restaurants tapped to serve at the revamped arena were Roast sandwich shop of Melville and Hicksville; GreeKrave, the Deer Park Greek eatery; Cabo: A Taste of Mexico of Rockville Centre; and Vincent’s Clam Bar, the Carle Place descendant of the classic Little Italy trattoria. Dogs and fries were provided by Nathan’s, headquartered in Jericho, and Prime Food Distributor, a leading metropolitan area meat wholesaler based in Port Washington, set up shop serving burgers.
Levy Restaurants, the arena’s operator, selected the vendors for its Long Island Taste program, and provided all the staff.