Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

May 6, 2014

Detroit airport upgrades food, beverage offerings

ROMULUS, Mich. (AP) — Detroit Metropolitan Airport is upgrading food and beverage offerings at the McNamara terminal with a blend of local eateries, national chains and technology allowing people to be served at the gate.

The airport in Romulus hopes the effort will boost revenue from non-airline sources, The Detroit News reported.

The 25 new concessions at the largest passenger airport in the state are expected to be completed by the end of next year. Airport officials expect revenue to climb annually from $42 million in sales in 2013 to an estimated $63 million.

The airport revamped its retail locations earlier this year, replacing many of its news and gift stores. Airport officials project that the revenue from retail locations at the airport will be more than $7.7 million, up nearly 17 percent in the first full year.

Plans call for restaurants including P.F. Chang's, Chick-fil-A and Andiamo, as well as offerings from Detroit's Eastern Market and Zingerman's of Ann Arbor. The "Gate-Hold Experience" will offer food service to passengers in some parts of the airport.

"We want to be unique. We don't want to be a follower," said Greg Hatcher, director of concessions and quality assurance at the airport. "We tried to address passenger needs and new trends. We will have a Chili's, we will have a Max & Erma's, but in most places we want something really unique."

Construction is expected to be phased in over several months. Some businesses aren't expected to remain at the airport, such as an Einstein Bros. Bagels location and Jose Cuervo Tequileria. A Starbucks is being replaced by an Espressamente Illy shop.

Seated in the south end of Concourse A as he munched on peanuts, 55-year-old Christopher Freeman, who lives near New Orleans, said he travels back and forth to see family in Michigan about once a month.

Freeman said he welcomes the new Eastern Market cuisine, as well as the ability to place orders and be served while waiting at the gate.

"I love Eastern Market so I'm curious to see that. I think it's a great concept rather than have something generic like the various fast food restaurants," Freeman said. "Especially for the people who've got layovers, it gives them something other than the usual stuff."

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