Airport plans to revamp food and beverage, retail offerings

Changes to be complete by June 2020

General Mitchell International Airport.

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:21 pm

Travelers flying in and out of Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport in coming months can expect to see healthier dining options and a greater variety of local brands as leaders work to improve the hub’s outdated food and beverage and retail offerings.

A recent Milwaukee County department of transportation report prepared by airport director Brian Dranzik lists several upgrades and additions planned for concessions and shops throughout the building.

“Many of the existing stores at the airport in both retail, and food and beverage have been around for over 10 years,” the report states. “During that time traveler’s tastes and expectations have changed.”

As part of those plans, the French Meadow Restaurant space on Concourse C will be converted into a Starbucks and Cousins Subs, the Johnny Rockets restaurant space on Concourse D will be converted into a Great American Bagel Company, and the Famous Familia Pizza and Quizno’s Subs spaces will be transformed into Milwaukee Marketplace, a market-style concept specializing in healthy food options.

Updates will be made to the Chili’s restaurant on Concourse C and the Usinger’s restaurant on Concourse D.

The report notes Chicago-based startup Farmer’s Fridge will add its fresh food vending machines to the airport, though the report doesn’t specify how many there will be or where they will be placed.

In addition, the airport plans to roll out in-terminal kiosks and an app, to allow travelers to pre-order food items before going through security so those items would be ready for pick-up on the way to the gate.

The food and beverage improvements throughout the airport will take place starting in mid-2019 until June 2020, according to the report.

On the retail side, the former CNBC news and gift stores on the main terminal and C and D concourses would be renamed as Summerfest Marketplace, Bay View Exchange and Third Ward Crossing, and existing stores would include a “local marketplace concept” with products from local vendors.

A handful of new retail concepts are also in the works, including a Girl in the Moon store with MillerCoors branded items; No Boundaries outdoor apparel; men’s apparel stores such as PGA and Scoreboard; women’s apparel stores such as Brighton and Spanx.

The airport plans to add a coat check to one of the stores in the main terminal for travelers to leave their coats prior to travel.

Additionally, features such as the Mitchell Gallery of Flight, Sijan and Maitland Conference Rooms will remain within the airport’s pre-security area, but will be relocated to new spaces “in the event the airport moves security checkpoints in the future,” according to the report.

Retail improvements at the airport will begin in late spring and continue through June of 2020.

“Airports continuously update and modernize their retail and dining offerings to stay current with passenger expectations, and Milwaukee County is excited to move forward with this refresh,” Milwaukee County executive Chris Abele said in a statement. “These new brands will appeal to today’s travelers and increase revenue for the airport, which can help us bring more air service to MKE.”

An airport spokesperson said a formal announcement of the project will be made in the coming weeks.

Plans for the project come on the heels of recent changes related to the airport’s concession providers.

Food and beverage operators HMS Host and SSP America, both with locations on C and D Concourses, are now contracted for the same timeframe after the airport extended HMS Host’s contract from the end of 2019 to 2024, which is when SSP America’s contract expires. That change makes it easier for the airport to renew or award a contract in the future for all food and beverage locations.

After issuing a request for proposal (RFP) for retail concessions in late 2018, the airport earlier this year contracted its current retail concessions provider, Paradies Lagardere, to head the retail portion of the project.

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Maredithe has covered retail, restaurants, entertainment and tourism since 2018. Her duties as associate editor include copy editing, page proofing and managing work flow. Meyer earned a degree in journalism from Marquette University and still enjoys attending men’s basketball games to cheer on the Golden Eagles. Also in her free time, Meyer coaches high school field hockey and loves trying out new restaurants in Milwaukee.

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