National Firm Is Now Piloting the Restaurant and Bar Service at Rochester International Airport

July 21, 2022

Jul. 20—ROCHESTER — In recent months, a new restaurant and bar service has taken off at the Rochester International Airport for passengers heading to or from the runway in the Med City.

While the North Carolina-based Tailwind Concessions took over the food and beverage service with a soft opening in February, the airport, the City of Rochester and the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce officially welcomed the company with a ribbon cutting this week.

Tailwind, which provides similar services to 35 other regional airports from Florida to Alaska, manages the main café and bar near the security checkpoint as well as a "mobile bar" location on the second floor between Gates 4 and Gate 5.

"This is the gateway to the region and it represents our community's front door ... quality concessions enhance that overall customer experience and evolve a sense of place where people choose Rochester as a travel destination ... is absolutely essential to our success," Rochester City Administrator Alison Zelms told the crowd gathered in the main terminal for the welcome event.

Tailwind Concessions Chief Operations Officer Jess Backhaus said Rochester had long been on his company's radar and he feels the partnership is a good fit.

Tailwind has a team of nine employees staffing the recently upgraded 3,655-square-foot restaurant, which offers breakfast, lunch and dinner options as well as a full-service bar for travelers.

When the popular nonstop Sun Country Airlines flights to Phoenix, Arizona, and Fort Myers, Florida, resume in December, Tailwind will also staff the second-floor bar location. That will mean expanding the Rochester staff to 15.

"Our mobile bar at the gates is a big hit with Sun Country passengers, who are usually leisure travelers," said Backhaus. "They are often 'gatehuggers' who like to stay close to the gate and watch their plane come in. Now they can have a drink or a snack at the gate as they wait."

Mayo Clinic founded Rochester's first airport in 1928. While the City of Rochester owns the airport, Mayo Clinic is contracted to manage it via its Rochester Airport Co. subsidary.

Jeff Kiger tracks business action in Rochester and southeastern Minnesota every day in "Heard on the Street." Send tips to

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