The Wall Street Journal’s Scott McCartney points out that more travelers — an affluent group willing to spend money — consider themselves foodies and expect to eat quality food when traveling.
As a result, the quality of airport food has vastly improved at most terminals, with the help of celebrity chefs, sit-down restaurants, farm-fresh ingredients and quality wines.
“Travelers eat out a lot at home, and they want the same kind of choices at the airport now,” said Chief Executive Rick Blatstein.
Since quality food brings higher average prices and more volume, airport operators have been supplanting fast-food outlets in favor of sit-down restaurants.
Restaurant sales increased at much as 50 percent after OTG Management, which operates restaurants at 10 airports in the U.S. and Canada, replaced many chain restaurants with locally based eateries.
In fact, the airport in Austin, Texas, demands all vendors be local brands. There’s not even a Starbucks, said Mike Glenn, Austin general manager of Delaware North Companies, which operates concessions at the airport.
McCartney notes the Salt Lick, a local barbecue favorite, cooks meat in nearby Driftwood, Texas, and reheats it before serving at the airport. Last year, more than 55 tons of brisket sold at Austin International, Mr. Glenn said. Salt Lick posted the airport’s best restaurant sales totals in 2013.
At San Francisco International Airport, National chains account for a only 5.5% of current sales, said Cheryl Nashir, head of concessions for SFO. One reason: Higher-quality food is more expensive, so the average bill at local eateries is higher than fast-food outlets.
We listed the 10 busiest US airports by international passenger traffic, and featured our pick for the best restaurant at each one.
(Click “Next” to see the list)