There are empty restaurant spots in Concourses A, B, and C of Atlanta’s airport, as politics plays games with the ability of passengers to get food quickly during layovers.
Most airport restaurants are bad. It’s really hard to do food well given the security, traffic, space and contracting constraints airport restaurants face. But especially at hub airports it’s important for customers to be able to have access to food before and between flights.
Shake Shack Burgers are Hard to Do in an Airport, credit: Delta
The General Manager of the Atlanta airport was fired. He accused Atlanta’s mayor of playing improper political games with airport contracts.
The letter said airport managers got “direction from senior officials of the City’s Procurement Department to take a number of actions that would impact the award of active procurements of concession and construction contracts … by causing the contracts to be awarded to companies other than the highest-ranked bidder…”
It said such directions came “from the ‘second floor’ or ‘the Mayor.’”
While the airport’s general manager was exhausting legal options, contracting was put on hold. You never know what will come out in discovery during a lawsuit.
As a result of all of this, we learn how you get to open a restaurant like One Flew South in Atlanta’s airport:
Jackmont Hospitality, which operates restaurants including One Flew South on Concourse E, was founded by former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson’s daughter and is led by Daniel Halpern, who was a co-chairman of Reed’s 2009 mayoral campaign. Hojeij’s Wassim Hojeij was a member of host committees for Reed campaign events, and he and relatives made campaign contributions to Reed.
Proposals for some of the restaurant spaces were solicited in January 2015. However even now they still aren’t close to opening.
Once the city council approves those deals, the leases would be negotiated, then the design process begins, followed by construction — a series of steps that could take months to complete.
The evaluation process was being completed for those concessions, but the city procurement department had not yet begun evaluating proposals submitted in July for new restaurants on Concourse E, according to Geeter.
“I don’t understand what’s so complicated about getting a coffee contract, a hamburger contract, and whatever it is they serve at E,” said city council member Yolanda Adrean. “I’m befuddled.”