Several Restaurant Spots are Empty in Atlanta’s Airport After 2 Years Because of Political Cronyism

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.”

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Gary with all your anti-Trump posts (I’m also not a supporter) I would think as a big government and HRC guy you would like bloated bureaucracies with paper pushers.

    We don’t have this problem at DFW, the airport is well managed and there is a robust concessions program that seeks bids from many operators with dining concepts on the forefront of national and international trends.

  2. @Josh G writes, “Gary with all your anti-Trump posts (I’m also not a supporter) I would think as a big government and HRC guy you would like bloated bureaucracies with paper pushers.”

    Do you read this blog??

  3. I hear the PF Changs at Hartsfield is one of the busiest in the world. Along with the store inside Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, which based upon my recent visit, is a madhouse 24/7, including providing room service to all resort guests.

  4. I fly through ATL a lot. There’s no shortage of places to pay too much to eat, or buy overpriced goods. I even like to WALK between terminals and experience some of the art displays that others bypass when they use the train. About the only “empty spaces” I notice, are down in those connecting walking tunnels. WHERE exactly are these empty spots?

    I love ATL. don’t disrespect it.

  5. Yes Gary I do, I had the time I’d recall the posts and include links but don’t want to give you more hits.

    Why do you feel the need to editorialize on the Hot-Lanta airport concessions operations, you really think LAWA, Massport, PANYNJ are any better?

  6. @Josh G – I have criticized LAWA and PAYNYNJ as well. I think you’re missing the point on my reply, I don’t know how any intelligent person could read this blog and conclude I was ‘a big government guy’.

  7. Gary seems to be a lot like me: small government, stay out of my life. Not a Republican or Democrat. For liberty and freedom. Non-partisan.

  8. As least ATL has plenty of decent food options unlike O’Hare, which may be # 2 in passenger traffic, but near the bottom for food choices

  9. @Josh G – DFW airport may seem to be well run, but you can’t get Dr. Pepper there. It’s the national soft drink of Texas. Got shoved out with the Coke contract.

    @Rick – +++1 ORD is the worst for food choices.

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