Now, airport officials plan to solicit companies for the first batch of contracts later this year, and then put the rest of the contracts out for bid in the first quarter of 2023.
The long-delayed solicitations come as travel is rebounding following the worst of the pandemic. Staffing shortages continue to plague airport eateries and frustrate travelers, who often encounter closed locations, shorter hours and long lines at the food outlets that are open.
Hartsfield-Jackson concessions director Marlene Coleman said the airport wants concessionaires to “create a sense of place” through local concepts representing metro Atlanta, Georgia or the Southeast, or through locally-sourced products.
Coleman outlined the types of shops and eateries the airport will be looking for at a concessions industry outreach event at the Georgia International Convention Center on Tuesday. They range from delis and fast-casual eateries to bars, gourmet markets, coffee outlets and casual dining locations. The airport also plans to open new shops selling travel essentials, newsstands, bookstores and other retail outlets.
Also planned are new contracts for a “smart cafe” with automation, common-use lounge and sleep units.
Many of the contracts are for batches of multiple locations that typically draw competition from large multinational concessionaires.
But the airport also plans to offer five single-location contracts for companies with little or no airport experience. There will be one each on Concourses T, A, B, C and E. The move follows decades of challenges faced by small businesses that try to gain entry at the airport, which is dominated by longtime concessionaires.