A new airport dining option: Food trucks
A number of airports are allowing food trucks to set up shop in or near cellphone lots where people wait to pick up passengers. The trucks, which often showcase regional foods, cater to travelers, those picking them up and airport employees.
The trucks let airports shed their reputation for having unoriginal and tasteless food options.
"A huge trend in airports is being able to showcase the food and drink of a region because the airport is the front door of the community, where travelers get their first impression," says Deborah McElroy, interim president of Airports Council International-North America. "It really does help reflect the flavor of the community."
• Austin-Bergstrom International Airport's cellphone lot has Twist of Spice serving wraps, paninis, salads and Mexican food from Monday to Friday. Outdoor tables are available for eating on mild days.
• Harley Dogs recently opened in the cellphone lot of Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International, serving hot dogs, bratwurst and metts each day.
• Tampa International Airport has one food truck a day on weekdays in the cellphone waiting lot or near the main terminal. Twenty different food trucks handled by the Tampa Bay Food Truck Rally rotate the spot.
• Four trucks, run by Tucson Food Truck Roundup, park adjacent to the cellphone lot at Tucson International Airport. They are Lucky Girl Café, Chef's Kitchen, Pin-up Pastries and Jackie's Food Court. Chef's Kitchen refers to itself as a "mobile bistro." Jackie's Food Court has an extensive menu that includes Angus burgers and fried zucchini.
• San Francisco International Airport has two or three trucks visit each Thursday in an area at the upper level of Terminal 1. In the rotation: Boardwalk Eats offers Hawaiian fare, Curry-up has Indian dishes, El Sur serves empanadas, and Kung Fu Taco has an Asian fusion menu.
Katy Smith, a spokeswoman for the Tucson Airport Authority, says that the airport wanted to provide a unique food option for its customers and the 13,000 local residents who work on the property.
"We especially wanted to enhance the experience for people picking up travelers," she says. "Our airport is a community asset for everyone, and we want locals to enjoy their experiences here."
Cellphone waiting areas were introduced after 9/11 because of security concerns over too many vehicles idling near terminals. The lots also help airports reduce emissions as cars don't circle around burning fuel and causing congestion.
McElroy says more than 50 of the 207 airports represented by her organization in the USA and Canada had cellphone lots last year, and that the number is growing.
Over the years, airports have added amenities to the lots such as free Wi-Fi and electronic boards with flight arrival information.
The food truck market, meanwhile, is one of the fastest-growing segments of the restaurant industry. In a National Restaurant Association survey last year, 43% of adults said they had purchased items from a food truck.
So when airports were looking for another amenity to offer, it seemed like the right fit. The airports say it doesn't cost them anything —some even take a portion of revenue — and that it helps local merchants. It's also hassle-free, as they don't have to take extra security precautions because the trucks are parked in public areas.
"The airports recognize that the cellphone lot provides an important service for the community, and inviting food trucks there is a natural extension of the airports' commitment to take care of community's needs," McElroy says.
So far, the trucks have been a hit at some of the airports. Doug Yakel, a spokesman for San Francisco International Airport, says on their first day in operation last week, both food trucks sold out early. "Workers from a nearby company actually e-mailed their order and came to SFO to pick it up," he says. http://www.usatoday.com/s...4085&sfvc4enews=42
<message edited by Dr of BBQ on Tue, 08/6/13 7:53 AM>