Cedar Point is already a destination for roller-coaster nuts and thrill seekers.

But the park is angling to attract foodies, too.

Cedar Point has opened two new restaurants this season that offer menus a step up from corn dogs and fries.

The restaurants offer a new pricing structure too. For $13.99, guests can pick an entree and a side. Drinks and desserts and additional sides cost extra.

The Backbeatque is located next to the Magnum XL-200 roller coaster, where the old Witches Wheel ride was situated. It looks like it would fit right in at one of those new lifestyle shopping centers that are popping up.

At its entrance, there is a drum kit hanging from the ceiling as a chandelier. This sets the tone for the Motown theme with a large rotisserie cooking chickens in the center.

There are two lines for guests to select their food with seating outside, including tables by a stage that will be home to the park's Backbeat Quartet.

The entrees — all made fresh daily — include smoked brisket, chopped BBQ pork, smoked sausage, rotisserie half chicken, fried shrimp and fried Lake Erie perch.

Sides range from Southern slaw and potato wedges to mac and cheese, baked beans, corn on the cob, fried okra, side salad and cornbread muffins. The dessert offerings include apple pie, smoked pecan pie, peaches and cream, banana pudding and fruit.

The chilly offseason was spent tinkering with the recipes and getting everything ready for the summer crowds. Cedar Point executive chef Phil Bucco said he hopes guests are pleasantly surprised.

His personal favorite menu item at the Backbeatque is the fried shrimp. Its sweet taste might seem familiar: It is coated in the park's funnel cake batter.

"You have to add a little touch of nostalgia," he said.

The other new restaurant is along the main midway not far from the park's entrance.

Hugo's Italian Kitchen has indoor seating, a brick oven and a fresh pasta machine. The entrees include meatball subs, chicken Parmesan sandwiches, fresh pasta, stromboli, pizza and Caesar and Greek salads, and sides such as pasta salads, garlic knots, Caprese salad, traditional salads and a white bean salad. The desert menu includes tiramisu and cannoli.

While guests are encouraged to linger and enjoy the ambience of the two eateries, this is still Cedar Point, so efficiency is paramount. Both restaurants are built to handle about 400 guests each an hour.

The park is working to up its game on food offerings, said park general manager and vice president Jason McClure, to meet the growing expectations of guests.

The Sandusky park, he explains, constantly works to improve the guest experience from rides to food but as more and more visitors are staying multiple days it is critical to have a wide range of things to do and places to eat.

"Our guests have high expectations," he said. "We need the food experience to live up to the reputation of our roller coasters."

And though tastes have changed over the years, McClure said, you still have to offer staples like fried food.

"We now have more healthy options than we have ever had, but we will still sell more funnel cakes," he said.

 

Craig Webb, who suggests you ride first and eat second, can be reached at cwebb@thebeaconjournal.com.