CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — When Malcolm DeShields takes a catering order, he makes sure his client’s requests are taken care of. He’s the owner of the Bar-B-Q Man in Corpus Christi and provided food and alcohol for events at the American Bank Center about twice a year.
However, the Oak View Group, the new management company that took over the American Bank Center earlier this summer, told DeShields and other local businesses that they wouldn’t be able to cater events.
For DeShields, that means he won’t be able to give his workers extra hours and they won’t be able to get extra tips from the events. It also means nonprofits he donates to won’t receive some of the proceeds from the events.
“I will be saddened that the business that is available to the local community at the American Bank Center will disappear for us and our clients,” DeShields said.
DeShields said the Oak View Group is offering him a chance to have his food in the concessions, but he said it doesn’t fit his business model.
The Oak View Group’s general manger Brian Martin said they’re providing all the alcohol at the American Bank Center because of liability and legality issues.
Casey Lain is the owner of the House of Rock in Downtown Corpus Christi and is also in the same boat as DeShields.
He’s been catering events at the American Bank Center for about 10 years and said he was never told by the Oak View Group that he was being dismissed as a caterer.
“It’s disheartening and more than anything it’s not having a seat at the table,” Lain said.
Lain requested a meeting with the Oak View Group and said it took three weeks to schedule a meeting.
He said they are allowing him to be a food vendor, and said although he likes the idea of local vendors providing food, he doesn’t want to because it would compromise the quality of his food.
“House of Rock pizza is delicious when it comes to a House of Rock oven to a House of Rock table," Lain said. "Cooking it off-site and bringing it in or cooking it in an oven that’s a different style than ovens we use — It would be a different product than we serve here."
He said the groups holding events should be allowed to choose their own caterer.
DeShields and Lain were at the city council meeting on Tuesday and shared their concerns.
DeShields said he and Lain will be meeting with the city council next week.
The City of Corpus Christi’s city manager Peter Zanoni said he is on board with the Oak View Group’s business model.