Big refresh: Shakeup of Atlanta airport eateries, shops picks up speed

Airport selects two contractors to overhaul dining and retail options as first major concessions refresh in more than a decade moves forward
Multiple restaurants are on Concourse B at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. (Curtis Compton/ AJC 2018 file)

Multiple restaurants are on Concourse B at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. (Curtis Compton/ AJC 2018 file)

Big changes are finally set to come to food and shopping at the world’s busiest airport.

Officials with Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport selected two companies in a major round of new concessions contracts that will involve more than a dozen new restaurants and shops across four concourses.

Plans to revamp food and retail outlets were delayed for years by contracting issues and a federal corruption investigation at Atlanta City Hall. The pause continued during the COVID-19 pandemic when travel plummeted.

As a result, it’s been more than a decade since the last airport-wide refresh of concessions. Airport officials vowed a revamp that will bring more flavor of Atlanta, Georgia and the Southeast to the airport.

Areas USA was selected for a contract to open multiple locations across Concourses C, E and F. Areas, a concessionaire based in Spain with operations in the U.S., leads a joint venture called Areas Shellis ATL JV LLC that competed for the work. The contract is to open a gourmet market and quick-service restaurant, two coffee spots, a bar/restaurant, two convenience stores and a gourmet market and bar.

Concessions giant Delaware North was selected for a contract for several eateries on Concourse B. The contract is to refresh existing spaces with new eateries including a new casual dining restaurant, fast casual restaurant, coffee spots and a bar with food. The Concourse B concessions package attracted more than a dozen competitors through the city of Atlanta’s contracting process.

The concessions contracts are subject to approval by Atlanta City Council.

Hartsfield-Jackson plans to put more concessions contracts up for bid across the terminals and concourses in the months to come.

There’s “lots of interest” in concessions contracts at the Atlanta airport from local, regional and national companies, said Hartsfield-Jackson General Manager Balram Bheodari during a briefing at a city council committee meeting last month.

Airport concessions are “probably an area where we’re starting to feel a bit average, when you look around what other airports are doing and around the world,” City Councilmember Amir Farokhi, who chairs the council’s transportation committee that oversees the airport, said during the meeting. He added that he was “excited to see this next phase of concessions.”

This week’s announcements are a significant step, but the contracting process has continued to work through some issues.

The current contracting effort started late last year. The airport’s concessions director departed late last year, and was replaced by a new senior director of concessions, Scott Knight, who joined the airport in July after a decade at Delaware North, where he was a general manager in Atlanta for the concessionaire.

This latest round of contracts follows the award of a concession contract last year to Atlanta-based Paradies Lagardere for shops and eateries in a new wing of Concourse T.