New Kroger Field concession options will add to UK game day experience

An Athenian Lamb Burger from Athenian Grill in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

Move over hamburgers and hotdogs, there are some new sheriffs making their way to Kroger Field.

As the Kentucky football season inches closer and closer, fans can look forward to more than just touchdowns and tailgates. When the Big Blue Nation shows up for Kentucky’s season starter against Central Michigan, their noses are likely to lead them to some new unconventional eats.

UK Dining is incorporating a fresh lineup of local restaurants into its concessions setup, in hopes of giving students and fans some new game time snack options that surpass the likes of typical stadium food.

“Not just serve hotdogs and hamburgers, give them a true experience of how gameday should be,” said Resident District Manager for UK Dining Pulkit Vigg. “That’s our goal, right? To bring the community in.”

Empty-bellied spectators will now have the option to visit Kroger Field’s new Atomic Ramen and Athenian Grill locations for a halftime bite.

While some might turn their noses up at the thought of Japanese ramen and lamb kabobs at a football game, be assured that the expectant restaurant owners have curated their menus with game time in mind.

Fans can expect to see a new brick-and-mortar Athenian Grill location in Kroger Field serving up things like Greek hotdogs, lamb burgers, Greek gyros and even some Mediterranean vegan choices.

“We want to bring the Greek street food to Kroger Field,” said Athenian Grill owner Ilias Pappas.

Pappas and the rest of the Athenian Grill crew said they’re all excited to showcase some new local food to UK football fans.

“We’re excited to team up with the University of Kentucky. It’s an institution here in Lexington, and we want to be a part. We have other projects in mind for the future, and that’s a good start,” Pappas said.

Pappas started selling his brand of authentic Greek cuisine in Lexington about six years ago out of a food truck. He’s since expanded to operating three full-service locations around the city.

When Atomic Ramen owner Dan Wu got approached about expanding his restaurant to Kroger Field, he said he had some reservations.

“I love ramen, but it’s not suited for certain things,” said Wu. “It’s certainly not suited for watching a stadium game. You’re not gonna have a big sloshy bowl of noodles.”

That’s why fans can instead stop by the new Atomic Ramen popup tents and grab Wu’s rendition of an “Asian taco.” Atomic Ramen is hoping to wow the hungry with their pork belly bao buns, a small sandwich of sorts that’s sure to surprise most.

“I think we’re just gonna set up shop near probably one of the gates, and see what happens,” Wu said. “For me it’s my first time doing something of that kind of volume. It’s a little scary to think about 50,000 or 60,000 people in there. So it’ll be interesting.”

Wu said he is excitedly anticipating unveiling his new options to a larger audience, and hopes this will be one step closer to getting the South on the “ramen train.”

“For me, my philosophy is food is not as scary as you think,” said Wu. “It’s not that scary. It’s delicious and perfect for a game.”

When the first kickoff of the season echoes through Kroger Field, fans are sure to have access to any foods that help them cheer on the Cats, scary or not.