Spokane Airport to Offer Bigger Menu

Nov. 10--Travelers at Spokane's airport next year will be able to sample locally made pizza, beer and wine under a new contract approved Wednesday.

Spokane's airport board approved a 12-year contract with HMSHost Corp. to operate food and beverage concessions. The airport expects that the deal will increase its food-and-beverage revenue by almost 30 percent next year.

HMSHost plans to expand the current four food and beverage locations at the airport to 11 next year, according to airport officials. It's taking over the food and beverage concession currently held by Delaware North Companies.

The 11 outlets will include Starbucks coffee shops in the two airport terminals, plus four eateries in an expanded food court in the main terminal rotunda.

The current sit-down restaurant, operated by Delaware North as Lefty's, will be remodeled and renamed Vintage Washington.

Vintage Washington will offer samplings of more than a half-dozen wines from area wineries.

The food court will also include Spokane pizza maker David's Pizza, a Chili's Grill and Bar, and a Quizno's Sub shop.

Other additions in the main terminal, besides Starbucks, are two brewpubs featuring products by Northern Lights Brewing Co. of Spokane and Coeur d'Alene Brewing Co.

The C concourse, where Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air operate, will have a second Starbucks, a Pyramid Ales and Lagers restaurant, an Italian food eatery called La Pisa Cafe and a fruit smoothie bar.

Officials say the expansion will give the traveling public more choices and generate more operating revenue for the airport. Airport travelers here have complained they had minimal food and beverage choices once they crossed through security.

An airport redesign already under way will move the security checkpoint closer to the terminal entrance, giving passengers more places to enjoy a bite or a beverage, say airport planners.

HMSHost, based in Bethesda, Md., has agreed to pay 13 percent of its gross sales to the airport, said Judy Gifford, manager of contracts at the airport.

That deal, along with the expanded choices, is expected to reap the airport about $650,000 next year from food and beverage sales, she said. Delaware North estimates it will pay the airport about $520,000 in 2005.

Mark Irvin, president of Northern Lights Brewing Co., said the arrangement will be "tremendous for us." Irvin said he's tried without success for years to find a way to sell locally produced beers at the airport.

"So here this large company gets the contract, and they've already got that idea in their plan. That's great," said Irvin.

HMSHost will operate all 11 airport locations but will buy products and license the brand names of local and national food outlets. It will have about 85 airport workers, said Pat Banducci, vice president for business development.

HMSHost has more than 70 airport food and beverage contracts. Those airports include New York's La Guardia, Sea-Tac and Portland.

Prices for food and beverage items will be similar to the prices at comparable restaurants at other HMSHost airports, said Banducci. Those prices typically are slightly higher the larger the airport, he said.

Three companies, including Delaware North, bid on the 12-year concession. Airport staff ranked HMSHost the best among the three, said Mark Jucht, director of finances at the airport.

Jucht said the airport surveyed passengers this past year and found most wanted more variety, plus access to more local and national food service brands.

"The No. 1 request specifically was to have Starbucks there," said Jucht.