Minneapolis magic

HMSHost has unveiled the final few concessions in a 12-venue food & beverage contract at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Mark Lane spoke to HMSHost Vice President of Business Development Michael Price about the project and the global travel restaurateur’s plans for 2020.

Global travel restaurateur HMSHost has almost completed the introduction of a vibrant and varied new food & beverage line-up at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Terminal 1.

A food court featuring five brands opened in a remodelled space in November, and the company has also revealed details of the final two openings of the ten-year, US$367 million F&B contract.

The contract, at a travel hub firmly entrenched among the USA’s top 20 busiest airports, was secured from the Metropolitan Airports Commission back in 2017 in partnership with Pady Regnier of St. Croix Airport Retail and Robert Grace of Be Graceful Bakery and Catering.

Fast-casual local brands Bottle Rocket and The Cocktail Room on 18th and Central, opening this month and in January 2020 respectively, will complete the new F&B line-up. The former is a concept from Minneapolis-based Blue Plate Restaurants, a local restaurateur which runs venues including the Highland Grill in the city. In addition to offering food, it will run a cocktail service to the gate areas nearby.

Michael Price: “We will continue to take the dining experience in airports to new heights through innovations in food and service”

Airfield views: The new food court features four national concepts and an offering from a well-known local chef

“Bottle Rocket represents Blue Plate Restaurants’ unique take on fast-casual dining specifically with the airport environment in mind. With input from the airport, it is very exciting to see their vision come to life, bringing Bottle Rocket’s fun atmosphere and an energetic nostalgic vibe to Concourse C,” says HMSHost Vice President of Business Development Michael Price, who is responsible for developing and overseeing key client relationships on behalf of the company.

The Cocktail Room on 18th and Central has been created in collaboration between HMSHost and Tattersall Distilling, a Minneapolis-based craft distiller. Price says that Tattersall spirits are made from locally-sourced ingredients, so guests will be able to taste the state of Minnesota’s farms along with food designed by HMSHost. It will feature Tattersall’s full line-up of spirits from barrel-aged bourbons and gins to rum and vodka variations, speciality cocktails and more.

Price says: “The full-service bar offering combined with fast-casual food service format is something that is not very common in airports but will greatly enhance our offering by adding convenience, choice, and a richer experience.”

Further outlining the thinking behind the two final openings of the F&B contract, Price adds: “HMSHost partners with local groups like these to bring travellers an authentic taste of the area’s most iconic flavours and dining experiences and to make a direct connection between the local company and the guest.

Auntie Anne’s and Cinnabon have recently opened in a combined location in Concourse F. Offerings include pretzels and cinnamon rolls.

Firehouse Subs is a US brand which was founded by firefighters. Speciality subs are the staple of its menu, including the Firehouse Steak and Cheese.

“Blue Plate Restaurants and Tattersall Distilling are each examples of how HMSHost is constantly raising the bar in airport dining, bringing travellers brands they will love and offering a Sense of Place right in the airport.”

The aforementioned food court, meanwhile, features four national concepts and an offering from a well-known local chef – in the form of PinKU, Shake Shack, Auntie Anne’s, Moe’s Southwest Grill and Firehouse Subs. They are housed in an area featuring plentiful natural light, modern fireplaces and a two-storey tall wall of windows with views of the airfield.

The local restaurant brand PinKU is run by chef John Sugimura and his business partner Xiaoteng Huang, who quit a high-flying corporate career to pursue his entrepreneurial dream. PinKU has a menu staple of Japanese street food and sushi. The drinks options include sake and cocktails, which are served from a bright pink ‘tea house’ at the centre of the food court.

The roll call of F&B openings as part of the contract is completed by two Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, Chili’s and Smashburger. Each concession was unveiled earlier in 2019 in various locations in Concourse C and the MSP Mall. One of those Starbucks was recently named as the winner of Airports Council International – North America’s Best New National Brand Concept at the 2019 Excellence in Airport Concessions Awards.

Moe’s Southwest Grill is a national brand which is making its first appearance in Minnesota. It serves Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine.

The redesigned food court received local recognition in the form of the Minnesota Shopping Center Association Award in the ‘Design & Aesthetics Renovation: Interior Retail’ category.

The 12 new openings outlined add to the range of longer-established Minneapolis-St. Paul International restaurants operated by HMSHost, whose ties to the airport go as far back as 1971. These include Minnesota Wild (an HMSHost partnership with the state’s premier National Hockey League team) and MKT, HMSHost’s market-style dining concept which features healthy, garden-fresh food options for travellers.

“Building on this great past and the exciting new restaurant openings, we believe that Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and HMSHost will share a rewarding future together,” says Price.

Early in 2020, HMSHost will turn its attention to entering Austin-Bergstrom International Airport for the first time. Looking further ahead, Price says that his company will be setting up new F&B operations at South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach International in the spring. New openings are also in the pipeline for Salt Lake City International Airport’s new terminal.

Assessing HMSHost’s strategy going forward, Price concludes: “We will continue to take the dining experience in airports to new heights through innovations in food and service. Investing in technology and empowering travellers with choices are how HMSHost is removing the friction from the travellers’ journey.

“We are also focused on working closely with airports in the development of new terminals and restaurant spaces to ensure we are building efficient operations. A well-designed kitchen and storage space enables us to be better and makes it possible to offer more quality and variety. By adding capability and enhancing restaurant operations, we are bringing more vibrant experiences into the terminal.”

Local restaurant brand PinKU is run by chef John Sugimura and his business partner Xiaoteng Huang, who quit a corporate career to pursue his entrepreneurial dream

Shake Shack’s airport footprint is expanding rapidly with the Minneapolis-St. Paul outlet opening in quick succession with others at Las Vegas McCarran and New Orleans

FAB eZine

December 2019

FAB is published monthly by The Moodie Davitt Report (Moodie International Ltd).

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