Humanising the complexity of airport food & beverage service

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.
Martin Moodie

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Elizabeth (‘Liz’) Grinsteinner Grzechowiak, Assistant Director of Concessions and Business Development at Metropolitan Airports Commission (operator of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and six general aviation airports), is one of the best and most insightful airport commercial executives I know. And today on LinkedIn she just reaffirmed it.

Here’s her take on an article in Food Service news called ‘Institutional Dining: The Feeding Frenzy at the Airport’, written by Mecca Bos.

It’s an article, which as Liz points out, “humanises the complexity of what it takes to successfully serve” in an airport. Intrigued, I clicked through from LinkedIn to the full article. It’s just about mandatory reading in my view for anyone interested in airport F&B (and in staff service in general).

It begins, “The last time you dashed for a bagel and a coffee before making your flight, or even bellied up for that all-important, nerve-calming Bloody Mary, did you give any thought to what goes into the feeding and watering, potentially, of 100,000 people on a given day? Probably not.

“But that number is how many bodies pass through the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on any given day. One hundred thousand people with wholly disparate timelines (and perceived timelines,) ages, nationalities, dietary needs and hungers. How to feed them all efficiently and not just satisfactorily, but extraordinarily well?”

To be fair to Food Service News and the journalist (nice writing Ms Bos, I particularly like your description of the airport’s F&B programme as a “massive, many-tentacled beast”), I suggest you click here to find at least some of the answers.

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is rolling out an impressive 45 new F&B units over a four-year revitalisation programme (15 down, 30 to go). With Liz and her colleagues overseeing the project, and with some 1,700 dedicated men and women working within the airport’s F&B operations, there are bound to be plenty of treats in store.

Footnote: The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport commercial team clearly aren’t afraid of a challenge. Last year they unveiled a particularly ambitious food & beverage project in partnership with Midfield Concessions. View the video below to see how the Food Truck Alley in Terminal 1 took shape, and to discover the challenges involved in installing a new airport concept.

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