Michael Mina's Tailgate at Levi's Stadium

Michael Mina's Tailgate at Levi's Stadium

Inspired by the essence of a backyard barbecue with friends on an NFL Sunday, Michael Mina’s Tailgate at the 49er’s Levi’s Stadium, provides an innovative twist to the classic get together. It’s tailgating on a scale never seen before.

Levi’s Stadium officially opened its doors on Sept. 14, 2014, when the 49ers took on the Chicago Bears. The state-of-the-art, 1.3 billion-dollar-stadium-seat venue (that can fit just below 70,000 people) has 8,500 club seats and 165 luxury suites. That is a lot of mouths to feed. When the stadium was in its early design phases, the York family, who own the 49ers, knew that they wanted to elevate the foodservice operation. So, they reached out to James Beard Award-winning chef and avid 49ers fan Michael Mina.

Michael Mina's Tailgate Experience at Levi's Stadium

There were numerous challenges to execute Michael’s vision from custom, one of a kind appliances to ventilation systems capable of handling significant changes from the all-out blitz of Football Sunday to day to day operations of Bourbon Steak and Pub on non-game days. Halton solutions played a vital role by incorporating our M.A.R.V.E.L. plus, Capture Jet hoods and Ecology E pollution control systems. Now hear the story of this culinary masterpiece from Michael and his design team lead, Ken Schwartz of SSA.

Watch the full video on Foodable's website...


Products and Technologies


Mina wanted to make sure that if he had the opportunity to put in a restaurant, that there would be a tailgate party.

"I had always been that chef that...was over creative, and all my team would [say] we can't do this... It can't be done," he said.

Enter Ken Schwartz, FCSI consultant and founder of SSA in Tampa, Fla. Schwartz and his team have worked on projects that include resorts, casinos, restaurants, airports, and hotels, and has worked with the Mina Group on several projects throughout the years. Schwartz and his team pride themselves on allowing the operator to define the guest experience and designing the operation around that vision.  

"Ken was great because Ken is the guy that tells me that we can get it done,” Mina said.

Several challenges needed to be solved. Their vision for the guest experience was to package the excited energy and adrenaline of a parking lot tailgate and refine it into an actual physical, sleek restaurant design. How did they bring it all together?

"The responsibility was on us to figure out... how to make it work, how it would function," said Ken Schwartz.  

For one, as soon as fans walk in, they look up and see streetlights. When they look down, they see the lines they would find on a parking lot. These little, playful, authentic touches make them feel at tailgate-home from the first glance. The layout of the space itself — wide, open, and inviting —creates a super social, casual, and fun environment.

Beyond its look, the concept also emphasizes what Mina considers a core element of tailgate cooking: rotisserie. Thanks to Schwartz’s help, they were able to bring a two-sided, two-story rotisserie to life — it can cook an 1100-pound animal whole, which means more food for fans.

From the space’s unique rotisserie buildout to its seafood boiling stations, all the equipment is custom and completely gas-fired, allowing them to do away with different hood systems and allowing them to save $280,000 on the project.

And what equipment brand does Schwartz trust? Halton.

“Halton has been a leader in research and development…. The systems that have been developed by Halton actually allow their systems to exhaust at a lower CFM than any of their competitors on the market,” he said, adding that it equates to lower operating costs and capital investment.

Products Installed

Capture Jet Hoods

M.A.R.V.E.L. Demand Control Ventilation with Zone Control

Electrostatic Precipitator Systems