Let the salivating begin: Salt Lake City International Airport announced Wednesday that it chose a mix of 23 local and national food concessionaires for its new terminal and concourses when its first phase of reconstruction opens late next year.
The best part: They all agreed by contract not to hike up prices at the airport, but to charge the same as they do at other locations.
So if a menu item costs $5 in downtown Salt Lake City, “at the airport it will be $5,” said John Buckner, the airport’s director of administration and commercial properties.
Airport officials say the rebuilt airport will feature far more food and drink choices — from Asian to Italian, Mexican and American — than the space-constrained current airport, which was built to serve 10 million people but saw about 27 million pass through last year.
Among locally based companies chosen are: Café Rio, Granatos, Market Street Grill, Squatters Pub, Uinta Brewing, Wasatch Pub, Blue Lemon, Beans & Brews and SLC Life Market/Creminelli Fine Meats.
Others, including national chains, selected are: Bruges Belgian Bistro, California Pizza Kitchen, Fillings and Emulsions, Pago, Panda Express, Panera Bread, Pizzeria Limone, Pulp Lifestyle Kitchen, Shake Shack, Silver Diner, Starbucks, White Horse Spirits & Kitchen, Pick Up Stix and Smashburger.
Some of the establishments — a Blue Lemon café and Starbucks — will be outside the security checkpoint for people waiting to greet passengers.
Bill Wyatt, executive director of the airport, said at a news conference in the under-construction terminal that lineup is “filled with some of the most extraordinary concessions in the United States.”
Buckner said the airport sought to “create a diverse and vibrant concessions program … from fine dining to casual dining to coffee to retail to all kinds of specialty services” that the airport’s tight spaces did not previously allow.
The first phase of the $3.6 billion airport rebuild will include a central terminal, the west end of two concourses and a parking garage. A second phase is scheduled for completion in late 2024 — and concessionaires for it will be chosen later.
Some of the newly named concessionaires said they are excited by the new airport’s architecture, stunning views of mountains and the opportunities it offers them.
Pat Murray, executive vice president of SSP America, said his umbrella company for food services operates in 200 airports around the world.
He said he has visited many of “the really fantastic airports worldwide.” He adds the new Salt Lake facility and its mountain views will be stunning, “and will receive international notoriety. For us, it’s a truly humbling experience to get to be part of this.”
Todd Smith, chief operating officer of Café Rio, which began in Utah and now has 127 restaurants regionally, said, “To say that we’re excited for this would be a massive understatement.”
He said that’s because Café Rio owes Utahns a debt of gratitude. “We’re across 12 states … and the reason that we are as loved as we are is because the amazing people of Utah, and amazing people in Salt Lake who embraced us 22 years ago.”
In December, the airport announced a mix of 20 local and national news and gift stores that also will pack the rebuilt airport. By contract, those stores also will keep their airport prices as low as those found elsewhere in the city.
Among local and regional merchants and services to be featured are Hip & Humble, Liberty Park Market, Maverik, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, the King’s English, Visit Salt Lake, The Salt Lake Tribune, Deseret News and KSL-TV.
Among the national and international brands are XpressSpa, iStore, Coach, CNBC, Frye and Tumi.
The first phase of the airport rebuild will include 30,781 square feet of retail space — 23 percent more than the existing airport. Another 14,554 square feet are expected in the second phase of the project.