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Good Eating – Concessionaires Developing Proprietary Brands For Airport Diners

From creating wine bars with upscale food options to establishing
partnerships with world-renowned chefs, food and beverage
concessionaires have been working hard in recent years to one-up each
other in an effort to better serve the traveling public.

These efforts show no sign of slowing down, either. ARN asked several
concessionaires what proprietary concepts or new brands they are
bringing and expanding in airports.


Concessions International, Proof Of The Pudding: Fresh Gourmet

Concessionaires have noticed that airport customers often seek healthy
eating options, and they have not ignored the trend. Concessions
International has established a kiosk-sized concept called Proof of the
Pudding: Fresh Gourmet for which the company has high hopes.

Currently, Concessions International has three locations in kiosks at
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International (ATL). Company officials
expect more.

“Based on the positive response from our guests, we expect significant
opportunity to expand the concept to meet the growing demand for more
nutritious eating options,” says Anthony Joseph, CEO of Concessions

Proof of the Pudding: Fresh Gourmet was developed in collaboration with
Proof of the Pudding, a local Atlanta gourmet caterer, with the support
of concessions staff at ATL. The concept offers travelers fresh,
pre-made sandwiches, wraps and salads, cereals, fruit, all-natural
cookies and gluten-free chips. The sandwiches, salads and wraps have
15% lower fat and sodium than USDA guidelines, Joseph says.

“We have found that a rapidly expanding segment of airport guests
greatly appreciate and support the concept,” he says. “The … concept
was specifically developed to provide healthy gourmet alternatives for
travelers who are not satisfied with the limited salad options offered
at quick-service restaurants.”

Delaware North Companies Travel Hospitality Services, The Food Network

Delaware North Companies Travel Hospitality Services has entered a
multi-year partnership with the popular Food Network under which the
two companies will collaborate to develop new menu, restaurant and
retail concepts for the hospitality firm’s airports, sports venues,
entertainment complexes, parks and resorts across the country.

Officials from both companies are already at work creating signature
dishes for Delaware North’s more than 50 sports and entertainment
venues. There are no airport locations under contract yet, but company
officials hope to have news of a deal in the next six to eight months.

“This is something that is really unique for the food industry,” says
Vito Buscemi, director of concept portfolio at Delaware North. “We are
really excited about bringing it to the airport environment.”

Food Network reaches nearly 100 million U.S. television households with
its programs, which include “Iron Chef America,” “Chopped” and “Diners,
Drive-Ins And Dives,” and many of the network’s chefs, including Bobby
Flay, Alton Brown and Guy Fieri, are well known.

“To say the least, it’s growing and growing,” Buscemi says. “It’s been
phenomenal for the food industry and young chefs. … With that kind of
success and that kind of interest from the public in what the Food
Network is doing, they’ve started some brand extensions.”

Buscemi adds that it has never been intimidating to watch the Food
Network, and Delaware North hopes to capitalize on that by bringing it
to life as a brand extension into casual dining concepts in “live
environments” such as airports. Delaware North will build and operate
the concepts, and Food Network will provide training, brand standards
and marketing support. The concepts will carry the Food Network brand.

Buscemi says he’s had ongoing discussion with Food Network officials for more than a year to pull this off.

“They have a lot at stake with their brand, as do we,” he says. “It was
a long engagement and long process to go through to make sure that we
were working out all the details and that we were the right fit.”

Hudson Group, UFood Grill

Hudson Group is more known for its news and gift shops and specialty
retail than for its food operations. But the renowned concessionaire is
attempting to expand its presence in the food arena, as well, through a
master license agreement with health food partner UFood Restaurant

Hudson and UFood Restaurant Group have inked a deal that will put the
UFood Grill in 10 new U.S. airports. UFood Grill operates its
fast-casual restaurants at Boston Logan International (BOS) and
Dallas/Fort Worth International (DFW), and has a franchise agreement to
enter Cleveland-Hopkins International (CLE).

UFood officials expect this agreement to ensure future success in
airports, and Hudson officials are excited about strengthening the
company’s position in the food and beverage industry’s healthy eating

“Our market surveys have shown that travelers are concerned about
maintaining their diet regimens, even in the hurried airport
environment,” says Joe DiDomizio, Hudson’s president and CEO.

UFood Grill offers low-fat dishes made with natural and organic
ingredients, fresh produce, whole grains, and light cheeses and
dressings. All items are baked, grilled or steamed. The company also
has a selection of fat-free fruit Smuuthies and UBerry, a non-fat soft
serve yogurt.

“UFoods’ niche ­- providing healthful and flavorful dining alternatives
throughout the day – is a great example of Hudson’s ongoing service
mission: being the traveler’s best friend,” DiDomizio says.

HMSHost Corp., Beaudevin

Wine bars are all the rage these days and HMSHost Corp. is bringing a
new version to U.S. airports. The company first opened Beaudevin at
Brussels (BRU) and it won awards; it is introducing the concept at
Miami International (MIA) this fall.

Company officials say the concept will offer travelers an extensive
collection of wines, as well as a tasting area where they can sample
global brands and regional labels that will change seasonally. Guests
can dine in the lounge or take a dish away for their flight.

“Beaudevin is a great fit for the airport [because] it offers the
respite of a wine bar with great food and the opportunity to have fun
at the same time in the wine tasting area,” says Vince Modica, senior
vice president of concept portfolio, supply chain and standards.

Beaudevin was spearheaded by 10-year HMSHost veteran Atousa Ghoreichi,
senior director of marketing, as well as several of the company’s
colleagues from Autogrill around the world. Company officials expect
this will be a hit with both business and leisure travelers at MIA and,
they hope, around the U.S.

This is just one of many internal brands HMSHost is seeking to expand.
The company has several in-house experts developing concepts that it
has and will continue to tailor to any given market in which it
receives an opportunity.

“We are always looking for the opportunity to include our proprietary
restaurants in our line-up,” Modica says. “In our existing agreements
we’re actively looking for new spaces where we might bring them into
the airport.”

Read the rest of this story from the ARN July Food & Beverage issue! If you do not get ARN, click here to subscribe!