Airport Shops, Eateries Flying High

Food and retail revenue from the newly renovated terminal area is up 26 percent. New retail shops and restaurants at Tulsa International Airport are generating a significant increase in revenue in the first five months of the 2007 fiscal year, airport executives say.

"Food and retail revenue is up beyond the budget," said Carl Remus, deputy airport director of finance and administration. "It looks like it will be well over $1 million in revenue by the end of the fiscal year.

"The reason, I think, is because the new shops are inviting, passengers like the environment and there is value in what's available at the shops and restaurants."

For the 2007 fiscal year, which began July 1, the Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust projects food, beverage and retail sales in the passenger terminal at $950,000, a 26.6 percent increase from fiscal 2006 sales of $750,000.

Airport executives said they had expected the new food, beverage and retail shops to do more business than their predecessors, but they have been pleasantly surprised by how much.

TAIT receives a percentage -- a sliding scale depending on the item sold -- of retailers' revenue.

In TAIT's $34.4 million fiscal 2007 budget, retail revenue in the terminal ranks eighth in generating sales, well behind parking revenue of $5.5 million and terminal rents at $4.45 million, which rank first and second, respectively.

During the past week, three new post-security shops and restaurants opened in the new airport food court: Quizno's, Freckles and Mazzio's. Starbuck's, the fourth food-and-beverage outlet in the food court, will be open in mid-December, airport officials said.

During the past two years, Anton Air Foods and Paradies Shops, the new food and retail/gift shop concession managers, respectively, have overhauled Tulsa International's food and retail offerings.

Camille's Sidewalk Cafe, Cherry Street Cafe, Java Dave's, Rapido's, T.G.I. Friday's, Varsity Grill & Sports Bar, Cherry Street TravelMart, CNBC News Tulsa, Explore Tulsa, Green Country MarketPlace and Novel Idea Bookstore have opened with fresh themes and decor.

Meanwhile, new federal security regulations have imposed increased post-security waiting times for passengers between flights, which encourages more discretionary spending, officials say.

"We ended up with the same amount of (food and retail) square footage, it's just rearranged for where they need to be," Remus said. "Before, we had 22,399 square feet of food and retail space; now, we have 23,058 square feet.

"The difference is, before we only had 49 percent of the square footage post-security; now, we have 90 percent, or 20,813 square feet, of our (food and retail) square footage post-security.

"The food-and-beverage retailers will tell you the real market is with people getting on planes once they get past security. We had plenty of square footage before. It was just the wrong type in the wrong place."

The new retail shops and restaurants are part of a $30 million passenger terminal security upgrade and renovation project begun two years ago.

At that time, airport trustees requested bids from food-and-beverage operators as well as retail concessionaires for 10-year exclusive contracts to service the terminal.

The previous operator was CA-One, which held both contracts under various corporate names for the previous 40 years.

Remus said airport staff projected the new food, beverage and retail operations would generate $7 per enplaned passenger. Through October, Tulsa International has enplaned 1.3 million passengers.

"It looks like we are at $7.50 (in revenue per enplaned passenger)," Remus said, "and we are coming on toward $8."

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