OTG’s FAB-ulous Houston offer
At The Moodie Davitt Report’s annual Airport Food & Beverage (FAB) Awards in Dallas earlier this year, OTG was a finalist in five categories, snapping up one global award (The FAB Instagrammable Experience Award) for Yume; plus an Americas regional award and a Highly Commended. Here is a quick snapshot of OTG’s Houston FAB-ulous hot-list.
Category: Airport Bar of the Year
Beerhive began life as a concept at Toronto Pearson International Airport. Its soaring success led to OTG opening two similar venues at Houston George Bush Intercontinental inside United Airlines’ Terminal E. The venue is modern and inviting with an industrial look that features metal and warm wood accents.
Guests pulling up to a huge 29-seat bar can choose from over 20 tipples including a range of local craft beers and international favourites, ensuring there is something for every beer lover. For the hungry, a selection of bar pies, sandwiches and salads await.
Tech-savvy travellers can use OTG’s proprietary ‘flo tech’ with USB and power outlets at every seat. Beerhive offers free-to-use iPads, giving access to services including ‘Flight Tracker’, and an intuitive visual menu and recommendation engine for ordering; 20 languages are supported.
Category: Airport Casual Dining Restaurant of the Year
Created in partnership with award-winning architecture and design firm Rockwell Group, Ember is a free-standing 127-seat steakhouse that serves as the flagship eatery in United Airlines’ new Terminal C-North at Houston Airport.
Featuring an open exposition kitchen, the venue was developed as an ‘ode to Texas’, using materials grounded in the Houston area such as black and white tiles, copper, blackened metal and wood.
Diners sit under a wood plank ceiling and chandeliers made of copper pipes and exposed Edison bulbs, while a canopy of 10,000 copper stars floats above. The bar area features a wine tower display surrounded by plush banquette seating.
OTG used the expertise of well-known local chef and multi-restaurant owner Chris Shepherd to create the tavern’s mouth-watering menu, featuring locally-sourced meats including hand-cut steaks and Texas-sized burgers. His lofty credentials include the James Beard ‘Best Chef: Southwest’ award while he was also recognised as Food & Wine’s ‘Best Chef in America’.
Category: FAB Marketing & Promotions Campaign of the Year
Campaign: IAH Influencer ‘Tour and Taste’ event
To promote OTG’s transformation of the F&B offer in Houston’s Terminal E, an unusual approach was taken to introducing passengers to four new eye-catching and immersive restaurants (Gavi, Yume, Tanglewood Grille and Q), all designed by Rockwell Group. The operator used a campaign titled the IAH Tour & Taste, led by the F&B operator’s Culinary Team, which was aimed at Houston’s most influential food and drink social media storytellers.
Without contracts or a single paid post, OTG left it to the chosen influencers to tell these stories “100% organically”. Invitations were sent via Instagram direct message and included a GIF that OTG had developed which incorporated one of the key design elements of Yume, the waving ‘lucky cat’.
OTG highlighted various social-ready design elements, including hashtags and profile handles. A social-friendly placemat was developed and implemented for cocktails and featured dishes, providing a stylish social moment for the influencers to develop at every stop.
Category: Airport F&B Offer Best Reflecting Sense of Place
Venue: Bam Bam
Located in the airport’s Terminal C North, OTG’s Bam Bam highlights the expansive and rich Vietnamese-Cajun culture familiar to the Houston area. It combines design, food and convenience to bring a seamless, local Cajun-Vietnamese beer garden or banquette experience to the passenger, delivered from a long, continuous bar that wraps through the space.
OTG worked with local chef John Nguyen of the Cajun Kitchen to help develop the menu for the 70-seat venue. The recipes include grilled and raw oysters, including Cajun Kitchen’s famous oyster nachos, Vietnamese-Cajun boils, Po-boys, gumbo, boudin sausage and steaming pots of étouffée. Meanwhile, products sold in the adjoining market are representative of the Cajun-Vietnamese influence.
Continuing the Vietnamese-Cajun theming, fluted bamboo columns and pops of red are located within the space. The corrugated aluminium bar die references the Cajun influences in the restaurant’s cuisine, while the back bar is comprised of gold mirror panels with red lacquer framework.
Completing the Sense of Place, the neighbouring market has custom rickshaw-style carts covered in Vietnamese newspaper print graphics and a neon sign that reads, “We were made pho each other”, providing an Instagrammable moment.
Category: F&B Outstanding Design of the Year
Rockwell Group provided the design team to devise this compelling Asian Biergarten concept on behalf of OTG, situated at the head of United Airlines’ reimagined Terminal E. The result is Japanese-fusion specialist venue Yume, an eye-catching spectacle which stops travellers in their tracks and has become an inspiration for thousands of Instagram posts.
A canopy of red illuminated lanterns draws the eye, designed to appear to be floating above the Biergarten. This initial, first-look was made to evoke a vibrant energy of Asian night markets and the dreamlike glow of lantern release ceremonies. As guests progress further into the space, they’re surrounded by walnut slats forming wall treatments which fold outward to form canopies over the kitchen and bar in accents of blue and red.
At Yume’s Asian take-away market, bold and bright graphics, a wall of maneki-neko ‘lucky cats’ and a neon ocean wave playfully contrast with the wood detailing that unifies the venue. Diners will find an oversized display of beer and sake bottles with vintage Japanese beer posters, in a nod to the menu which focuses on local and Japanese-sourced ingredients paired with rotating selections of international beers and imported sake. The bar features a playful bar die made of thousands of mah-jong tiles.
Category: F&B Outstanding Design of the Year
Gavi, also located in Terminal E, offers a seriously attention-grabbing rival to Yume. The concept was developed as an ode to the sweeping outdoor Italian terrazas commonly found in coastal Italian villages and towns. Once again, it was designed by Rockwell Group.
The 117-seat space was created as both a spectacle, creating a Sense of Place for the terminal, and a solution to the footprint of what used to be a moving walkway. It offers a contemporary patio dining experience complete with sweeping black canopies and abstracted trees. The oversized trees have bronze-painted steel trunk frames and a canopy of mesh, translucent leaves to add a sense of movement.
Featuring an overall black and white colour palette with hints of leafy green, and accented by large vases containing lemon trees, the nature-inspired elements are further accentuated by an abstracted ceramic wall manufactured by Heath Ceramics. The custom piece features a mosaic of falling leaves in shades of white and green. A banquette surrounding the middle tree makes diners feel as if they’re dining al fresco and an open kitchen is featured in the space, with chefs hand-crafting pizzas and hand rolling and pulling homemade pasta.