Wednesday, April 2, 2003

Park to introduce food fit for a Kings Island fan

By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[photo] David Zellner, the new food service manager for Kings Island, stands next to Oktoberfest Gardens.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
| ZOOM |
MASON - For the first time since it opened in 1972, Paramount's Kings Island is spending millions to revamp its food service offerings.

Opening this season is a movie-themed seafood restaurant - tentatively called Bubba Gump's Shrimp Shack - as well as an Asian restaurant and a Subway stand. The menu for group events and corporate clients also is getting a makeover, including the addition of a Mexican Fiesta, with taco salad and Spanish rice.

Overseeing the project is food service manager David Zellner, who is the park's first executive chef.

The park's April 12 season opening will be his and general manager Craig Ross' first at Kings Island.

"It's not your typical theme park food per se," said Zellner, who was hired in November. "It will be nice for people who don't want to grab a piece of pizza and get right back on a ride."

Kings Island is playing off the movie Forrest Gump to create the seafood restaurant. The menu ranges from beer-battered fish and chips and peel-and-eat shrimp to chicken tenders and ribs.

"You'll be able to see your food getting made," Zellner said. "It's a completely open kitchen."

The shrimp shack replaces the Oktoberfest Beer Gardens, located across from Adventure Express, though the outdoor areas will be expanded.

It's expected to be open in early summer.

The other food additions - Subway and Mandarin Cuisine - are slated to open with the park April 12.

Mandarin Cuisine, on International Street, will serve Asian dishes.

Guests can eat in the park, or get the food to go.

Subway takes the place of The Sweet Tooth. Those desserts will be served in other locations.

Guests will still be able to find Cincinnati favorites such as LaRosa's, Skyline Chili and Montgomery Inn ribs as well as the "typical theme park foods," Zellner said.

Park officials say their long-term goals include adding a full-service, sit-down restaurant as well as a bakery.

While park officials are tight-lipped about any specifics, Zellner said they would correspond with where new rides and attractions would be.

Ross said he believes food is a key ingredient to a memorable amusement park experience. He started with Paramount Parks in the 1970s, spinning cotton candy.

"Food, as we all know, is an important part of having fun," said Ross, who was hired in June. "We felt there was an opportunity to build upon what we already had."

In addition to the new food options, Kings Island is unveiling three attractions this season. Scooby Doo and the Haunted Castle and the thrill ride Delirium will open with the park.

A 3-D movie ride, SpongeBob SquarePants 3-D, opens May 10.

"Our mission is to make people happy," he said. "We're in great shape to deliver that for our guests."


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