O’Brien Group Australia, the company who currently holds the catering contract for Suncorp Stadium, has recently come under fire from employees unhappy with the company’s current standards.
Employees at the stadium have raised concerns that the experience for both patrons and staff frequenting the venue has deteriorated since O’Brien took over from Spotless Group in late 2015.
Mr Jake Hirsimaki, who works in the members section of the stadium stated that an increase in price, inexperienced staff and poor working conditions have led to failing expectations within the stadium.
“The obvious changes were the markups on the already expensive food and drinks, which patrons repeatedly ask and complain about,” Mr Hirsimaki said.
“Members pay a premium to have a designated area away from general admission, so they expect a certain level of service. Yet they receive the same sub par service as the general public,”
“I do believe the customer experience was negatively impacted by O’Brien Group taking over.”
Mr Hirsimaki’s concerns are reinforced by an employee who has worked as a steward in the corporate box area at Suncorp Stadium both under Spotless Group and O’Brien.
The employee, who wished to remain anonymous, stated O’Brien was leaving the corporate box areas of the venue understaffed which had the potential to result in issues of underage and binge drinking.
The employee went on to describe how under Spotless Group the corporate boxes where serviced by what the employee describes as “runners” and “stewards”.
The runners would fetch drinks and food allowing the stewards to patrol the corporate boxes making sure no one was binge drinking or underage drinking.
“When O’Brien took over, the stewards had to go and get the drinks from the liquor dispenser,” the employee said.
“This is problematic, meaning you’re constantly away from the boxes,”
“You can’t control who is drinking what and how much of it.”
The employee cited this as a reason for her eventually starting to turn down shifts offered by O’Brien and find other employment opportunities.
“I don’t want to pay or risk paying a fine because someone in my box was underage drinking or drinking too much,”
“I’d have the blame on me because I was serving that alcohol. It is just too risky.”
Venue Catering Manager at Suncorp Stadium, Simon Camp spoke to Source News on the issues raised by staff members at the stadium.
Mr Camp stated that the increase in prices on alcoholic beverages at the stadium were due to a CPI increase .
“Stadium Queensland’s prices go up on the 1st of February which is in line with CPI”, Mr Camp said.
“This price increase is in line with all the other venues in Queensland”.
Mr Camp also said that O’Brien Group had decreased the price on certain food items citing children’s meals as an example.
“We have introduced kids meals which are much better value”, said Mr Camp.
“These meals are $4 where previously they where $11”.
With regards to claims made by staff on the potential of underage or binge drinking in the corporate box areas of the stadium, Mr Camp said that O’Brien Group takes the issue of responsible service very seriously.
“We take our liquor license extremely seriously”.
Mr Camp said that O’Brien Group’s liquor license covered a total of 4 venues including Suncorp Stadium and that for them to not take responsible service seriously would endanger their entire QLD operation.
“We also do [catering operations at] The Gabba, Metricon and Gold Coast [stadiums]”.
“For us to ignore responsible service of alcohol we would be putting not just Suncorp [stadium] but the whole of the Queensland operation in jeopardy”, said Mr Camp.
O’Brien Group took over the contract from Spotless who had previously held it for 31 years.