New restaurants and gift shops should be opening before the end of summer inside the passenger terminal at Lehigh Valley International Airport.
“Periodically, it’s necessary to look at the services you provide travelers and to upgrade those services,” said Charles Everett, the airport’s executive director.
One restaurant and gift shop will be in the terminal where passengers first arrive at the airport, explained Everett, and at least one additional gift shop and more restaurants will be in the concourse with the departure gates.
On Tuesday, the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority approved hiring San Diego-based First Class Concessions to operate new concessions at the airport. It will replace three concessionaires currently in the airport: Subway, Hudson News and Gold Chef Services.
It will be a 10-year agreement, which will bring the airport a guaranteed minimum of $168,000 a year, based on a percentage of First Class Concessions’ gross sales.
The new concessionaire is being hired to increase airport revenue, said Everett, who added: “By upgrading food, beverage and retail, we think it will do just that. We think, over the life of the agreement, we will do better.”
He said it’s very difficult for three different concessionaires to run a profitable enterprise. “With a master concessionaire, you don’t duplicate all those overhead expenses.”
First Class Concessions plans to invest $500,000 on the spaces it will occupy in the airport, according to the airport manager. “Construction may take a few months, but by summer they should be up and running.” He said the new concession operations will be phased in and should all be completed by the end of summer.
Several different themed eateries will be in the Wiley Post concourse, including those offering specialty coffee and specialty sandwiches.
In past years, the airport had a restaurant and gift shop in what Everett referred to as “the arrivals terminal,” but they were taken out before that terminal was expanded and renovated.
He said the food stand just before the screening checkpoint on the terminal’s lower level will be replaced by the new restaurant on the upper level.
For all aspects of the concession operation, including food and beverage, First Class will offer as many local product brands as possible, said Everett. He indicated locally-produced products will be sold at prices comparable to what people would pay elsewhere in the Lehigh Valley.
He said at least one of the restaurants will serve alcoholic beverages.
Subway, which has been at the airport for many years, will be gone. Everett said Hudson News sells candy and souvenirs, but has no real gift shop presence in the airport.
First Class Concessions operates at airports in Phoenix, Ariz.; Clearwater and Panama City, Fla; Oklahoma City, Okla.; Fort Wayne, Ind., and Santa Barbara, Calif. It plans to begin operations in spring at San Diego International Airport.
Also during the authority’s Tuesday morning meeting, Anthony Iannelli was elected to another one-year term as chairman. Marc Troutman was elected vice chairman, replacing Robert Buesing.