How to eat (and drink) your way through this year’s PGA Championship

How to eat (and drink) your way through this year’s PGA Championship

CHARLOTTE, NC (Katherine Peralta/The Charlotte Obs - Bryan Meredith estimates his staff will make 6,000 pounds of pulled pork and 2,000 pounds of beef brisket to feed the hungry fans at this year's PGA Championship.

The week-long tournament at Quail Hollow, Charlotte's first golf major, is one of the biggest events ever for Queen City Q, the Charlotte BBQ restaurant that also caters at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the Spectrum Center and BB&T Ballpark, according to Meredith, the restaurant's managing partner.

The nearly quarter-million people who visit Quail Hollow shouldn't be short on food and drink options during the PGA Championship this week. The selection of local fare, however, is limited.

The course this year boasts 10 PGA-branded concession areas, eight beverage "oases," four draft beer locations and three other areas serving beer and cocktails, according to Matt Dicker of Levy Restaurants.

Aside from Queen City Q, all other food at the concession stands open to the general public is provided by Levy, a Chicago concessions vendor owned by Compass Group, the food-service company with its U.S. headquarters in Charlotte. That's a change from years past, when restaurants like Bojangles' have served at Quail Hollow for the Wells Fargo Championship.

"We just happen to be incredibly fortunate that Levy ... asked the PGA to allow us to serve on the golf course," Meredith said. "It's a bit of a process to allow us to be in there."

Charlotte's sweltering heat and humidity could be providing an added boon for concessions at Quail Hollow.

As practice got underway on Monday morning, lines for concession and drink stands already were growing long, and patrons crowded the handful of bar-style tables set up near each dining area. Some of the smaller food carts selling ice cream and fresh-squeezed lemonade had to turn away customers who didn't have cash.

Pulled pork sandwich and mac and cheese from Queen City Q (Katherine Peralta | The Charlotte Observer)

Throughout the course, all food is prepared on site, Dicker said. The menu for the championship was curated by Tim Hoch, Levy's executive chef at the Spectrum Center.

The PGA-branded concession stands have diverse menus that include items like a Thai noodle shrimp salad ($12), a watermelon salad ($9) and roasted turkey BLT ($10), a popular wrap made with applewood bacon, herb aioli and pepperjack cheese.

Queen City Q is the only third-party restaurant group at Quail Hollow and has two specific concession tents – near the tee boxes at the 13th and 10th holes. It has a menu that's smaller and pricier than a typical Queen City Q, and includes items like a pulled pork BBQ sandwich ($11), smoked beef brisket sandwich ($11) and mac and cheese ($5.)

"(Queen City Q) has been a long standing partner of ours throughout all of our venues in the Charlotte area," said Dustin Atty, Levy's director of operations at the PGA Championship. "They offer a great local product, are an excellent identifiable brand in the market and a great representation of what the Queen City has to offer."

The Compass Group, which acquired Levy in 2006, has been the food vendor at Quail Hollow for a decade. Levy also operates the food operations at Spectrum Center, Charlotte Motor Speedway and BB&T Ballpark.

Levy uses a handful of other food and beer providers from around North Carolina, including Neomonde Bakery in Morrisville and Raleigh, which produces many of Levy's breads and specialty pastries, for instance, Dicker said.

The craft beer options are also a mix of local and national brands. They include: Sugar Creek Brewery, Goose Island Brewery, Appalachian Mountain Brewery, Catawba Brewery and Southern Tier Brewing.

At Queen City Q, preparing for the PGA Tournament has been an all-hands-on-deck affair.

"We've been working on this for the last two months," Meredith said. "We planned our renovation to start uptown today so that some of our extra staff could be down here for the PGA."