A slate of local restaurants -- including Pizza Domenica and Mondo -- and national chains Burger King and Panda Express are headed for the new Louis Armstrong International Airport terminal when it opens in 2018.
A selection committee Wednesday (Jan. 11) recommended two food-and-beverage concession groups to build and operate restaurants in the new 30-gate terminal, an $807 million project under construction. The glass-encased terminal with two concourses is scheduled to open Oct. 1, 2018.
The committee made up of airport and city leaders picked two groups to each develop one concourse: a joint venture of Delaware North and Chase Catering and Concessions LLC, led by local restaurateur Edgar "Dooky" Chase IV; and a joint venture of HMSHost and local partners Coaxum Enterprises, led by Henry Coaxum, Kaleidoscope, led by Cheri Ausberry, and Lucky Dogs, led by Kirk Talbot.
The recommendation must still get approval from the New Orleans Aviation Board and the New Orleans City Council. The decision came after a full day of presentations from five competitors. A procession of New Orleans culinary stars who had teamed up with big national players in the airport food concession industry appeared in the Aviation Board's meeting room to make their pitches.
Delaware North-Chase Catering's offerings include:
- Leah's Kitchen, developed by Edgar "Dooky" Chase IV in honor of his grandmother, Leah Chase.
- Folse Market, by Chef John Folse featuring seafood, po'boys, charcuterie, coffee and wine.
- Bar Sazerac, with New Orleans-style cocktails
- Heritage School of Music Stage and Wine Bar, with live music produced in partnership with the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation.
- NOLA Food Expo, a food hall featuring MoPho chef Michael Gulotta, Dook's Burgers & Brews and Ye Olde College Inn.
- Pizza Domenica, bringing together chefs John Besh and Alon Shaya and partner Octavio Mantilla for an airport extension of the popular Uptown pizza restaurant.
- Johnny Sanchez by chefs John Besh and Aaron Sanchez, an extension of their Central Business District upscale Mexican restaurant.
- Angelo Brocato, the century-old gelato brand
- PJ's Coffee
HMSHost's offerings include:
- Mondo, by Chef Susan Spicer, an extension of her Lakeview restaurant with global cuisine.
- Cure, a second location of the Freret Street bar founded by mixologist Neal Bodenheimer.
- The Munch Factory, by husband-wife team Jordan and Alexis Ruiz, an extension of their restaurant that opened in Gentilly and recently moved to the Lower Garden District.
- Emeril's Table, part of Chef Emeril Lagasse's empire.
- Willie Mae's, the famous Treme fried chicken restaurant founded by Willie Mae Seaton. The group indicated in its presentation that Willie Mae's involvement in the project is not certain.
- Lucky Dogs
- National chains including AuntieAnne's pretzels, Starbucks, Burger King, The Great American Bagel and Panda Express.
The existing food and beverage program is under a joint venture of Delaware North Companies and Chase Catering and Concessions LLC, a contract that expires in 2018.
Chase told the committee Wednesday that their partnership with Delaware North began in 2012 -- when the airport was undergoing renovations for the 2013 Super Bowl -- with Chase having a 10 percent stake, and that partnership and mentorship has grown. Chase now has a 35 percent stake in the joint venture for the new terminal. "I'm here daily to ensure that our guests get what I call the New Orleans experience," Chase said.
Delaware North-Case offered a minimum annual guaranteed payment of $2.97 million. HMSHost offered a $2.75 million minimum annual guaranteed payment in the first year.The airport would receive more if its share in sales revenues exceeded that minimum guaranteed amount.
In 2015, food and beverage brought in $33.7 million in gross revenues, netting the airport $3.78 million. Airport leaders have said one of the goals of the new terminal is to have more concessions for passengers near the gates after passing through security, a move that officials say will modernize the airport and potentially boost revenues. Currently, some restaurants such as Dooky Chase's are located outside of the security checkpoints.
Concessionaires must be open two hours prior to first departure and until the last flight leaves, or 4:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., which ever is longer, according to the city's request for proposals, and provide breakfast, lunch and dinner. Three groups lost out in the competition.
HBF MSY JV LLC: The group's presentation started off with a performance by Kermit Ruffins, who would lead their music program in the airport. The group is a joint venture of Hojeij Branded Foods, V Productions and The Grove. Their offerings included Cafe du Monde, P.F. Chang's, Boar's Head, Cafe Reconcile, Smoothie King, New Orleans Hamburger and Seafood, Lil Dizzy's and Gordon Biersch.
Paradies Lagardere: The national airport retail and food company teamed up with local partner Coaxum Enterprises. They assembled a group of restaurants including Dickie Brennan's Bistro & Oyster Bar, Galatoire's Bar & Steak, District Donuts, Popeyes, Panda Express, Mooyah, CC's Coffee, Morning Call and two locations by Wolfgang Puck.
SSP America: Drago's, Dunkin's Donuts, Atomic Burger, Diva Dawg, Kenner Seafood, McHardy's Chicken & Fixin', Slice Pizzeria, French Truck Coffee, Dryades Public Market, Juan's Flying Burrito, Toups' Meatery, Sassafras Restaurant and Abita brewery. The group also said it would partner with Tipitina's Foundation for live music.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu's chief deputy Jeff Hebert, a member of the selection committee, praised all five groups. "Clearly, everyone picked up on the heart and soul of New Orleans," Hebert said. "Everyone did an excellent job of putting our culture on full display to visitors as soon as they get off the plane ... It's a hallmark decision for the city as we will be opening the new north terminal."
The committee also included Michelle Wilcut, airport deputy director; Scott Hutcheson, the mayor's cultural economy adviser; Eric Friedman, airport concessions manager; and Carmen Robinson, airport acting deputy director and chief financial officer.
The new terminal is under construction in a field north of existing airport facilities. City leaders had hoped to develop a hotel attached to the new terminal but a recent call for proposals failed to attract any bids from developers.
Meanwhile, Kenner city officials have indicated plans for the airport are expanding beyond the original 30 gates because of increasing passenger demand at Armstrong Airport. City leaders have yet to release any details on an expansion.