Patriots Point is bringing barbecue on board next month.
Sticky Fingers has signed a five-year food services contract with Patriots Point to take over its snack bars, which will operate as Sticky Fingers Smokehouse Express. The two concession stands are located near the land-side admissions office and in the hanger bay of the World War II-era aircraft carrier Yorktown.
The restaurant also created a new catering business, Top Shelf Catering Co., to exclusively handle meal preparations for all the events hosted at the seaside tourist attraction.
Sticky Fingers Express and Top Shelf will begin serving Patriots Point on March 16. The company has the option to keep serving the museum, which is a state agency, for an additional two years after the contract ends in 2019.
Sticky Fingers was the only business to bid on the museum's request for proposals from restaurants interested in the food service contract.
The barbecue joint and catering service has the potential bring in as much as $2.5 million to the naval and maritime museum, according to the Statement of Award from the South Carolina Materials Management Office.
Patriots Point will receive a 20 percent commission on all food sales made at the museum. Sticky Fingers and Top Shelf will also pay a $70,000 food service maintenance fee to Patriots Point each year, according to executive director Mac Burdette.
The contract also requires Sticky Fingers to serve healthy menu options.
"We think we have struck a great contract for Patriots Point," Burdette said. "More than half of our business is related to food service, so we think Sticky Fingers will put us in the position to achieve our goal of making food a major part of the overall experience at Patriots Point."
Among the museum's list of goals to reach by 2016 are the initiatives to bring event rentals up to 350 contracts per year, and overnight camping registration to 24,000 campers per year. Burdette said Sticky Fingers will help both of those efforts at Patriots Point.
The new food service agreement is different than past contracts because it allows the state agency to sit down with the restaurant and catering company to discuss annual plans.
"In the past, we haven't had an opportunity to talk to the contractor about what we liked, or didn't like. Now we have a lot more latitude to achieve our goals," Burdette said.
Robert Patterson, owner of Sticky Fingers, said the benefit is mutual.
"It's a unique situation for Sticky Fingers because it's an opportunity to be in front of the hundreds of thousands of visitors to Patriots Point every year, and to give them a sample of our local legendary barbecue gives us great exposure," Patterson said.
The current food service provider is CECA, a local catering company that has exclusively served Patriots Point for the past four years.
Although Top Shelf will prepare food in two kitchens aboard the Yorktown, its services are not exclusive to Patriots Point.
The catering company is aimed at serving events across the community with affordable yet high-quality southern food that goes beyond Sticky Fingers' fare, Patterson said.
Top Shelf will be a separate entity from the barbecue joint, with its own logo, uniforms and menus.
Reach Abigail Darlington at 937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail