The dominant strategy among Terminal D concessionaires on the north end has been to keep pricey but talented managers and temporarily let go of most of their hourly staff.
Aranza, an experienced airport concessionaire who also has the sole contract for retail business at Dallas Love Field, said he's spending about $20,000 a month on management salaries for his three restaurants. That's in addition to the restaurants' construction costs, which total $5.3 million.
In addition to security costs, restaurants are also having to deal with post-9-11 regulations.
For Reata Grill, on the terminal's north end, that means redesigning its steak-centric menu to account for the prohibition of steak knives.
As a result, the restaurant pulled all of its steaks from the menu and instead plans to offer a lighter lunch menu.
The airport plans to help concessionaires by waiving a minimum annual rent payment and instead requiring merchants to pay only a percentage of sales revenue for their first year's rent. It also plans to extend contracts to make up for days not open.
Retailers said that's a fair move. While some are rookies in the world of airport retail, most are veterans and have been leaning on their other airport shops lately.
"It's a tough situation right now, but once you weather the storm, it will remedy itself," said Don Mitchell, who owns six yogurt shops in other terminals and will open Blue Bamboo Xpress and Blue Mesa Taco & Tequila Bar in Terminal D's north end. "The upside is really, really great."
Airport officials have long pitched the terminal as an economic engine for the rest of the airport. When all but 11 of the terminal's retail slots were announced in November, airport officials estimated they would account for $86 million in gross sales for their first year in operation. Since then, the airport has filled seven more retail spots in the terminal. Officials were unable to offer a more current projection in September.
The airport does a good job of generating a variety of retail sales, said Pauline Armbrust, publisher of Airport Revenue News. D/FW is an example of how airport executives are trying to rely less on airlines.
"The more they can generate on the non-aviation side, the more they can control their facilities," Armbrust said. "Airports don't want to be hand-tied by bankrupt airlines."
The terminal experience thus far has been a bittersweet one for retailers.
On one hand, they're frustrated by the delay.
"It's very much out of our control," Goldblatt said. "We're at the mercy of the airport and the airlines, as far as customer and airline traffic is concerned. When there are no passengers, there is no revenue and we can't be open."
On the other hand, retailers said they're proud to have been handpicked for a terminal described as the region's new front door to the world.
"We're just real excited about the opportunity to be here," said Derek Missimo, a partner in Mitchell's restaurants. "At the end of the day, it's going to be a phenomenal profit center for everybody."
D/FW officials are quietly asking American -- the dominant market-share leader -- to spread its flights more evenly across gates.
Oct. 31--D/FW AIRPORT -- In a boardroom debate Tuesday that lasted more than an hour and pitted several large concessionaires against Dallas/Fort Worth Airport management, the board's finance...
New healthy food options and parking discounts available for getaway week DFW INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Texas , March 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- DFW International Airport is...
After three quiet months of waiting, concessionaires are sweeping away frustrations and building up their staffs for a Saturday opening.