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HMSHost Corp. Riding Coattails of Lindbergh Field’s Soaring Success

With a captive audience of hungry passengers boarding no-feast, just famine flights, San Diego International Airport has a booming restaurant industry.

In late February, HMSHost Corp. introduced the first airport Yan Can restaurant at Lindbergh Field. It is also the first of the chain’s locations in San Diego and one of several new eateries planned for the two terminals.

Situated outside the security area in Terminal 1, the new 1,200-square-foot Yan Can replaced a Pizza Hut and Cinnabon snack bar, which were also HMSHost concessions.

Nyle Marmion, the airport’s manager of concession development, said that passengers easily can take Yan Can’s packaged items, including Kung Pao chicken and Mongolian beef, through security and on board their flights.

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HMSHost has 50 concessions, including 30 food and beverage outlets and 20 gift and news shops in about 60,000 square feet of space at Lindbergh Field.

The company plans to invest about $5 million in new restaurants at Lindbergh over the next few years. They include Brioche Doree Caf & #233; & Bakery in Terminal 1; Chili’s Too in the Terminal 1 food court; Quiznos in the Terminal 1 east rotunda; and Starbucks Coffee in Terminal 2, east. Additionally, it has committed to retrofitting all of its Starbucks outlets at the airport, Marmion says.

All of the new eateries will replace existing HMSHost concessions and more “reconcepting” is under negotiation. Chili’s, for instance, which is under construction, replaces Arriba Margarita and Pizzeria Uno, Marmion said.

“The reason we wanted a Chili’s is because we wanted a restaurant with full-service, sit-down dining and more menu items, which we didn’t have,” he said.

The current lease for HMSHost’s operations at Lindbergh Field expires in 2012. Yet, the airport’s concession management determined that “its program was looking a little dated,” Marmion said. So the international concessionaire stepped up to the plate.

Last year, the company’s gross sales from shops, restaurants and pubs at San Diego International totaled $72 million. The airport’s take from rents based on varying percentages of sales amounted to $10.4 million. The year before, gross sales were $64.4 million and it paid $9.3 million in rent.


Lindbergh Starved For Gates

Lindbergh Field tallied a record 18.3 million passengers last year, following a pattern of steady increases since 2002 when the total count stood at 14.9 million and the agency that oversees its operations, the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, projects congestion in its future, and is pushing to add 10 gates at Terminal 2, which would bring the total to 51.

That would mean more passengers looking for grab-and-go fare.

HMSHost is a $2.6 billion company that operates in more than 100 airports worldwide and employs more than 33,000 people.

Meanwhile, the outlook for the rest of the county’s restaurants in the face of recession fears is less rosy.

Steve Zolezzi, executive vice president of the San Diego Food & Beverage Association, said he estimates that gross sales of restaurants and bars throughout the county are down from 5 percent to 25 percent.

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