Brewers fans get taste of Canyon 49 Grill, GCU spirit
Story and photos by Laurie Merrill
GCU News Bureau
“Lemonade, lemonade, just like grandma made!”
“Italian Ice, get your sweet treat here!’’
The cries of hawkers peddling refreshments are as familiar at baseball games as the thwack of bat on ball. But this year at spring training, there’s a new barker’s call during Milwaukee Brewers games at Maryvale Baseball Park: “Burgers, get your burgers, heeere!”
It’s an enthusiastic invitation issued by Grand Canyon University students and staff to sink your teeth into a barbecued burger and homemade potato chips at the new Canyon 49 Grill concession stand.
Sure, you have to walk past other savory offerings to get to the last booth on the left-field side and purchase a secret sauce-smothered burger covered with fried onions on a fresh pretzel roll.
But the walk is good for you, the payoff worth it, and, besides, now you don’t have to disappoint GCU students, such as sophomore Justin Castro, tasked with directing the hungry toward a purple-and-white version of hamburger heaven.
Castro’s post by the entrance is ideal for him. “I love baseball,” he said.
New GCU-Brewers partnership
The stadium spinoff of the Canyon 49 Grill, located in the Grand Canyon University Hotel at 27th Avenue and Camelback Road, is the result of a new partnership between the Brewers and GCU’s Colangelo College of Business.
The other byproduct is that dozens of GCU students ─ many of them sports-loving Havocs and/or Hospitality Management majors ─ work behind the counters of nearly every concession stand at the park.
“It’s a great way to show the high energy and unadulterated fun that GCU represents,” said prep cook Henry Hurd, who was flipping burgers and managing a team of student workers.
Eighty-seven GCU students were hired for the part-time concession jobs during the first year of the partnership, said Mike Charles, Canyon 49 Grill food services supervisor. About 36 were working during a recent home game, and the big smiles of the students seemed to be everywhere.
“They’re doing great,” Charles said. “It’s nice when you walk into a concession stand and walk into a nice face.”
BBQ burger love
The burgers were a smash hit with baseball-loving Phoenix visitors such as Sue and Dennis Edwards, Milwaukee fans from Rhinelander, Wis.
“They are wonderful,” Sue said.
Ballpark supervisor Crystal Turco said she had been fasting from meat but couldn’t resist a burger.
“I think I’m hooked,” she said. “I’m in love with this burger right now.”
The flavor explosion stems from the sauce, the secret recipe of GCU Executive Chef Kevin Walton‘s grandmother, and the freshly fried potato chips.
Stadium managers are thrilled with their newest employees, said Brett Cortright, manager of the Canyon 49 Grill and GCU Hotel.
“When an elderly person places a large order, they will come from behind the counter and walk the order back to their seats for them,” Cortright said. “That really hit home for me.”
For their part, the Lopes manning the booths pinch themselves about getting paid to watch spring training games.
“I’m a Diamondbacks fan, but I like the Brewers just fine,” said Daniel Liguori, who is earning a Master of Business Administration with an emphasis on Strategic Human Resources Management.
Emily Hays, who is working toward a Bachelor of Science degree in Counseling with an emphasis on Addiction, Chemical Dependency and Substance Abuse, said that while the Brewers are an interesting diversion, her true passion lies with basketball ─ particularly the GCU men’s basketball team.
“The Havocs are so much fun,” she said. “Everyone paints themselves purple, and there’s music and we all dance. The team is fantastic this year. They did amazing.”
But it’s all baseball all the time for Allison Swales, who is earning a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and Special Education. Though admittedly a Los Angeles Dodgers fan, she is enthusiastic about the Brewers, too.
“I come from a baseball family. My brother is a pitcher in high school,” she said. “I love the atmosphere. I personally love making connections with customers and talking to them. This is just a really great opportunity.”
The Brewers play at Maryvale six times in the next nine days, including Friday and Saturday.
Contact Laurie Merrill at (602) 639-6511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.