The landscape of the restaurant scene at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway airport is about to get a major makeover if the Airport Authority Board of Directors approves a new food and beverage contract on July 16.
Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport will ask the board to approve a 10-year contract with Kind Hospitality to bring five new restaurants to the rapidly growing reliever airport. The lineup includes legendary Phoenix restaurant Macayo’s, local favorite OHSO Brewery, Starbucks, Infusion Coffee & Tea and Panera.
The decision comes at a time when the East Valley airport is in desperate need of more food and beverage options for travelers.
Airport growth has driven change
The airport has grown significantly over the past months, clocking 14 consecutive months of growth and 1.702 million travelers in the 2018 fiscal year.
But growth also means growing pains with the airport needing to update baggage handling systems, add parking and most recently, reexamine its food, beverage and retail options.
The airport has just two restaurants: Paradise Bakery, and Copper Plate Restaurant and Bar. That meant in the busy spring months, the airport scrambled to add kiosks, food stands and a stand-alone bar to serve an influx of travelers.
Despite those efforts, on a typical day during the morning rush the line to grab a coffee was dozens deep.
Here are a few facts about Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. Arizona Republic
Plans for new restaurants and retail
In December, the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Aviation Board of Directors approved plans for $2 million in construction to the terminal to create a better flow between gates. It also voted to create more restaurant and retail space while soliciting bids for new concepts to go in those locations. During its June meeting, the airport proposed accepting a bid to add three new retail concepts coming to the East Valley airport, which the board approved.
If this contract is approved, Nava Singham, CEO of Mesa-based Kind Hospitality, said his company plans to construct the restaurants over the next year in phases. He anticipates hiring for 70-75 new positions to staff the new restaurants.
The proposed new restaurants include:
Macayo’s first airport location
Kind Hospitality acquired the Macayo brand and six of its restaurants in February from the Johnson family, who founded and ran the iconic restaurant serving Mexican-American cuisine for more than 70 years.
This would be the first airport location. It would split the space currently occupied by Copper Plate with Infusion Coffee & Tea. It would have dining space and a bar area for travelers.
OHSO brewery with a patio
OHSO Brewery would go in a new space in the airport created by moving Gate 8 to the other side of terminal that houses Gates 9 and 10. It would have a garage door that opens to an outdoor courtyard, giving people a chance to have a beer before their flight while enjoying Phoenix’s climate.
The outdoor space was an important feature that the airport wanted to see developed.
“People want to be outside. That’s why they’re here. Because the weather back home isn’t as great as here, they want to soak up as much as they can,” said Brian O’Neill, Phoenix-Mesa Gateway executive director.
Panera with mobile and kiosk ordering
Panera would go into the Paradise Bakery location behind security, near the entrance to the terminal from security.
The chain, which just started opening airport locations including one in Sky Harbor’s Terminal 3, would allow customers to order through the company’s mobile app, through a kiosk or in person.
Starbucks near baggage claim
Airport staff readily admit they were a bit surprised the airport was able to lure in a Starbucks. Staff say the national brand typically only goes into airports with a larger passenger base. But Singham says the restaurants he has proposed are planning for the future growth of the airport.
For this location, Kind Hospitality would have a joint venture agreement with HMS Host to operate the Starbucks.
The chain would be located near baggage claim outside security, making it accessible to the public as well as those visiting the airport. The airport is exploring options to make the location a convenient option to those working in the area, not just those flying from the airport.
Infusion Coffee & Tea
In the other half of the current Copper Plate space, Kind Hospitality proposes putting local coffee roaster Infusion Coffee & Tea. Located near Gates 5 and 6, it would also have a garage door that can open to the outside to take advantage of the outdoor space.
Altogether, with Infusion, Starbucks and Panera, passengers would have three options to grab a cup of joe before they head out on their flight.
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