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LAX Prepares For Overhaul Of Existing Eateries, Retailers

Reut Cohen |
October 29, 2010 | 10:29 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

LAX will soon have dining options beyond McDonalds. (Creative Commons)
LAX will soon have dining options beyond McDonalds. (Creative Commons)
Los Angeles World Airports has created a phasing plan in conjunction with LAX’s concessionaires to minimize impact to passengers during the overhaul that will replace existing retailers and eateries in some terminals over the next year.

After a two-year long process aimed at providing travelers with better vendors and restaurants, the Los Angeles City Council awarded nine retail contracts for the Los Angeles International Airport in a 12-1 vote last week.

In September, the city’s Board of Referred Powers evaluated eight contracts due to protests that arose from a perceived conflict of interest involving the chairman of the Board of Airport Commissioners, Alan Rothenberg, who maintains some stock in a restaurant that was included in the bidding contracts. Protesters argued that the chairman’s stock with the California Pizza Kitchen, estimated at over $1 million dollars, was indicative of a conflict of interest. In a subsequent investigation, HMS Host International’s contract, which included the California Pizza Kitchen, was thrown out.

The Board of Referred Powers approved four of the five food and beverage bids and three retail bids. The Board of Airport Commissioners approved two remaining retail packages and the City Council approved nine of the 10 packages last week in a 12-1 vote.

“Bad policy tends to be done in a rush," contended Tony Cardenas, the chairman of the Board of Referred Powers and sole dissenter. Cardenas argued that more time was needed to carefully consider the ten-year deal and said contracts should have been sent back to LAX officials.

But proponents of the new concessions argue concerns over the contracts were carefully considered and that the process to approve them has been thorough.

The Los Angeles World Airports said they are working with the concessionaries to implement the new changes while minimizing inconvenience to LAX’s travelers.

“We will be working with each of the concessionaires to design spaces to optimize food prep, selling and eating spaces while creating aisles with sufficient space to wheel luggage through the units,” said Amy Shaw, Director of Concessions Development for Los Angeles World
Airports. “Wherever possible, concessionaires will install multiple cash registers to quickly process transactions and reduce the long lines that queue into public spaces during peak times.”

Airport officials said that during construction some retailers will provide goods through temporary units, such as wall units for retail products and installation of refrigerated cases for pre-packaged food and beverage goods.

The Hudson-Magic Johnson Enterprises, a partnership between the former Los Angeles Lakers star, the Hudson Group and Concourse Ventures was a major winner in the concession approvals.

Popular brand shops will include Sunglass Hut, Hugo Boss, Papyrus, True Religion, Ed Hardy and Oakley.

Dining options, which have long been lamented as mediocre at LAX, will feature outlets operated by celebrity chefs, including Ford’s Filling Station, Skewers by Iron Chef Morimoto and Wolfgang Puck.

Other popular Los Angeles dining, such as Engine Company No. 28 and B Grill by BOA Steakhouse, will also replace existing restaurants.

A version of Homegirl Café, inspired by the café run by Homeboy Industries, a charity for former gang members, is also among the new beverage concessions.

Terminals 4, 5, 7 and 8 will be impacted by the awarded retail contracts. Contractual opportunities for terminals 1, 2, 3, 6 and the Tom Bradley International Terminal are expected to begin in three months.

Some outlets will open within the first six months of 2011, according to Shaw. Some of the larger restaurants are set to begin renovations mid-year and expected to be completed at the end of 2011.

Reach Reporter Reut Cohen here.



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