Airport Commission approves concessions leases

By SARA HALL

John Wayne Airport (JWA) is slated to have new concessions, many of them local businesses and restaurants, in the near future.

The Orange County Airport Commission voted 5-0 on Wednesday (May 1) to approve leases for the concession development program, effective upon approval by the OC Board of Supervisors. The item is scheduled to be considered by the board on Tuesday (May 7).

The leases include: Retail packages with Hudson Group (HG) JWA Concessionaires JV and Paradies Lagardère at SNA, LLC; two food and beverage leases with Host International, Inc., (parent organization: HMSHost), and a food and beverage lease with McDonald’s USA, LLC.

After hearing the passion and appreciation from the local operators, Commission Chair Brendan O’Reilly agreed with all of the positive commentary shared at the meeting.

There’s a lot of love in this room,” he said.

The team did a “bang up job” on this and he’s excited about the future of the airport, O’Reilly said. It was a long process and the hard work is paying off, he added.

“Kudos to everybody. I think we’re all going to be the benefactors,” O’Reilly said.

Commissioner Susan Dvorak was interested to learn about the selection process and all the complexities of the project. It’s not a simple process, she added, this project is huge.

“We’re very fortunate to have our airport director who has vast experience in that and the business development team taking the reins on that,” Dvorak said.

Along with other projects underway at the airport, the work is overwhelming, she added.

“I’m super excited about it, the new concepts, and I think that we’re going to have the best concessions the industry,” Dvorak said.

In 2019, JWA proposed a comprehensive four-phase concession development program that encourages local concepts and brands to participate in its quick-serve, retail and casual dining opportunities. After a delay due to COVID-19, the airport retained Unison Consulting, LLC, to assist with evaluating the existing concession program. They found that larger packages would yield stronger sales to maximize proposers’ interest. As a result, JWA staff recommended a total of four packages for the solicitation (two food and beverage and two retail, with automated locations throughout).

On March 26, 2023, the request for proposal was released and on July 17, JWA received qualified proposals for all but one of the packages.

Airport staff previously presented the concession concepts to the commission on October 4. At that time, most of the ideas and comments focused on highlighting local businesses and a “sense of place” for the region. At the October commission meeting, staff noted that it’s been more than 12 years since JWA conducted such a large-scale RFP for food, beverage and retail options.

In separate votes on October 17, the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved concepts from three different proposers for two retail packages and one food and beverage package.

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Screenshot of JWA staff presentation from OC Supervisors meeting

The Hudson Group proposal was selected for the airport’s retail package one, which includes a space for Boutique del Mar

Ultimately, the board selected Hudson Group (HG) Retail, LLC, for retail package one; Paradies Lagardère at SNA, LLC, for retail package two, and Host International, Inc., for food and beverage package two.

Food and beverage package one did not receive any bids and the board directed airport staff to negotiate with qualified operators and return to the board. It went through a competitive process and staff negotiated terms for the package and ultimately selected Host.

Host’s food and beverage packages will provide 16 concepts that include: Tacos La Pina Dorada, Earl of Sandwich, Starbucks, Sgt. Pepperoni’s Pizza Store, The Anaheim Ducks, Wahoo’s Fish Taco, Panera Bread, Five Vines, Left Coast Brewing, Dunkin, The Habit Burger Grill, Bonchon Korean Fried Chicken, Chaupain Bakery, Auntie Anne’s, OC To Go and Mama’s Comfort Food & Cocktails.

In terminal A, Sgt. Pepperoni’s Pizza Store, Starbucks and Earl of Sandwich were part of the negotiated items that the commission previously reviewed.

Deputy Director of Commercial and Revenue Development Amy Goethals also highlighted some of what will be offered in the food and beverage package that was not previously presented to the commission.

That same terminal will include the OC Experience, which consists of an Anaheim Ducks sports-themed bar and restaurant, and Chaupain, a local French-inspired café and bakery.

“Really capturing that sense of place,” Goethals said.

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The area will also include Five Vines Wine Bar, a San Juan Capistrano-based family business that will sell wine by the glass and bottle, tasting flights, as well as soft drinks at the JWA location and Tacos La Piña, a local Mexican casual dining restaurant with a full bar.

In Terminal C is Wahoo’s Fish Taco, a local fusion Baja cuisine with casual dining, and Starbucks, which will be good for passenger flow as their logo is recognizable “a mile away,” Goethals said.

From Five Vines, Randy and Suzy Fisher said they were grateful to HMSHost for including them. As a local, small business being a part of the community is important.

“We’re looking forward to being part of the airport community,” Fisher said.

Trenton Ulicny of Tacos La Pina also expressed appreciation for being part of the selected package. He and two long-time friends (who also attended the meeting) co-founded the restaurant, a small business based out of Costa Mesa; they’re also excited to bring their food and passion to JWA.

“This process has been a dream come true for some great friends and so we’re thankful for the opportunity,” he said.

The sentiment was also shared by Jeff Roberts of Sgt. Pepperoni’s, a favorite of many Newport Beach residents.

“This is a dream come true for us as small, family business owners, Orange County-based, to be able to represent ourselves on such a grand scale here at our airport John Wayne,” Roberts said. “Thank you so much for this opportunity, we will not let you down.”

They poured their hearts into the business and made it a community space, Roberts noted, including donating millions to local nonprofits over the years.

“We have incredible food, but we (also) serve the community,” he said.

All three of the local business owners shared some of the background of how their business or restaurant started, their connections to Orange County, and what it means, as a small, local business, to be able to operate at the airport.

McDonald’s will be located in terminal B in the reserved burger location.

Hudson’s retail package provides five concepts that includes: PCH Provisions by Hudson, MAC, Jo Malone & Sunglass Hut on the Go, Boutique Del Mar by Hudson, Brookstone, and Orange Coast Magazine by Hudson. Hudson has more than 30 years of concessions operations throughout the United States and Canada. Hudson operates more than 1,000 locations, with 88 locations in airports.

The second retail package by Paradies Lagardère will provide four concepts that includes: Harbor Exchange, Market 949, The Goods @ SNA, and SoCal Essentials. Paradies opened its first airport store in 1960 and currently operates in more than 1,000 locations across North America.

These are all 15-year leases Goethals confirmed. The vendors will essentially be paying the airport a percentage of their gross sales. There will be about 14 to 24 months of implementation and instruction.

The hope is that the construction will start in the first or second quarter of 2025, Goethals said. After the preliminary phasing plan, which will be shared with the operators once the leases are awarded, they will then move into the design phase before implementation. They expect an estimated 18 to 24 months of construction.

Per the concessionaires’ proforma, the estimated annual revenue to JWA will be $11.4 million.

Those funds aren’t specifically earmarked for any particular project, said Airport Director Charlene Reynolds, answering a commissioner question. They will go into the general account and be used for various purposes.

Dvorak asked about a potential plan to partner with any OC arts organizations to get even more of a “sense of place.”

The plan is to move the current music and art program to some of the existing space there and enhance the programming, Reynolds answered. The idea is to improve the guest-centric experience, she added.


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