Applebee's, Caribou Coffee, Cheeseburgers May Arrive at Virginia Airport

Aug. 31--Travelers at Richmond International Airport can expect to see new food and beverage and gift-shop options starting early next year.

Several new eateries, including Applebee's, Caribou Coffee and Cheeburger Cheeburger, are expected to open shops in the airport terminal under a proposed concessions contract approved by the Capital Region Airport Commission yesterday. The commission also endorsed a contract proposal that will bring new management to the airport's news and gift shops.

The commission authorized the airport's staff to negotiate a final 10-year contract with CA One to provide the food and beverage concessions, and a 10-year contract with Hudson Group to provide news and gift-shop concessions.

CA One, a subsidiary of privately held Delaware North Cos. of Buffalo, N.Y., has held the contract for both concessions at the airport since 1987. The current contract expires in December, and the airport staff decided to seek separate contracts "with the thought that we would have more opportunity for a wider array of proposals, and more creative proposals," said airport spokesman Troy Bell.

Hudson Group, a private specialty retailer based in East Rutherford, N.J., that operates more than 450 stores, plans to remodel the airport's news and gift shops and operate six locations. Among other changes, the company plans to operate a store section devoted entirely to children's gifts.

The Hudson Group contract would generate more revenue for the airport, which receives a share of sales. The company offered the airport a minimum annual guarantee of $825,000, nearly double the airport's current minimum of $450,000 for news and gift-shop sales.

"That was not the principal reason why they [the Hudson Group] were selected, but that is one of the elements," Airport Chief Executive Officer Jon Mathiasen told the commission.

He said airport officials were impressed with the Hudson Group's proposals, which he said would be "complementary to the airport's design" and would "bring a fresh, crisp gift-shop operation to the airport."

CA One offered a minimum annual guarantee of about $595,000 from food and beverage sales, about the same as the current contract.

Travelers bought about $6.5 million worth of food, beverages, magazines, books, gifts and other goods at Richmond International in the most recent fiscal year. Both companies are partnering with Virginia-based minority-owned firms to provide the concessions.