Many of us of a certain age remember what dining at an airport used to mean. If we ate at a restaurant, chances are the décor was early Soviet with a menu to match. The snack bar/fast food outlet featured hot dogs on metal rollers, warmed-over hamburgers, French fries, soda pop and not much else. Then airports discovered that a mix of national, regional, and local food and beverage brands could add serious money to their bottom lines.
In my opinion, US airports started seeing a true, radical change in the food/beverage business in September 2008 when JetBlue opened its new flagship Terminal 5 at New York JFK airport. While HMSHost Corp, Delaware North and Hudson Group are often considered the go-to firms for airport concessions JetBlue tapped New York-based OTG Management for Terminal 5, known as T5.
A relatively new player in the game, OTG claims to operate award-winning restaurants that just happen to be located in airports. Back in 2008, I got a sneak peek at T5 about two months before it opened, and chatted with officials from OTG about their restaurants for the terminal. They wanted to offer a wide variety of food choices for everyone.
Crave a good steak? Try 5ive Steak, a restaurant features a strong surf/turf menu. Interested in a good burger? Then check out Cheeburger Cheeburger, which serves ridiculously large – and delicious – burgers. It also offers veggie and chicken burgers, along with cheese sandwiches. I am a BIG fan of sushi, and I love Deep Blue Sushi, which not only has a great selection of the eponymous meal, but also features Kobe Beef steaks, innovative tempura, yakitori and cooked fish.
Are you more of an Italian food foodie? Aeronuova offers a modern twist on the classic menu, which includes five types of bruchetta, six antipasti and five versions of tramezzini, a type of crustless baked sandwich.
For those travellers who love gourmet Mexican food, Revolucion is the place to go. Roberto Santibanez, who was the culinary director of the Rosa Mexicano chain of restaurants, developed Revolucion. It features handmade tortillas, a variety of salsas and guacamole made in front of your eyes.
If you’re in a rush to catch your flight, Cibo Express Gourmet Market is a great, on-the-go hotspot for gourmet sandwiches and salads, sushi, kid’s meals, bakery items and gourmet snacks ideal to take aboard the aircraft. Restaurant chain lovers will find Dunkin Donuts, Ben & Jerry’s and Jamba Juice.
All the restaurants in T5 offer carryout service. Meanwhile, OTG has branched out to Terminals 2, 3 and 8 at JFK, along with eight other airports, including New York LaGuardia, Washington National, Boston Logan and Chicago O’Hare.