MidAmerica Airport is looking to bring food service back to its terminal.
With Allegiant Air planning additional service in July and August, MidAmerica airport recently sent out a request for qualifications for potential food vendors to provide concessions.
Only vending machines are available at the airport, Airport Director Tim Cantwell said.
Currently there are four flights per week with about 150 people each.
According to the request for qualifications issued by the airport, there is a 2,000-square-foot concession space available, with tables, chairs, counter space, electricity and water. Improvements to the space would have to be paid for by the concessionaire, Cantwell said.
A previous vendor was in the space about two years ago, and sold sandwiches, pizza and candy.
Cantwell said airport officials are looking for a creative plan and a local business to provide local fare.
He added he has received interest from restaurants about having carts in the airport on certain days.
There is potential for non-air passenger customers.
Cantwell said on non-flight operation days, there are about 225 people working at the airport every day, and concessions could be attractive to employees at Boeing and North Bay who may drive to Mascoutah to buy lunch.
Dan Wilson, the operation manager for North Bay at MidAmerica, said a food provider could be attractive to his employees. However it would need to be price competitive with nearby restaurants. It also would need to be quick, convenient, he said, and possibly allow customers to call in orders for pick up, and have healthy options.
There also would need to be convenient parking for people picking up food and not flying out of the airport, Wilson said.
His employees have a half hour to an hour for lunch, so driving somewhere may not always be time conducive.
“Something close would be very good,” Wilson said.
The current food service area is post security checkpoint, but there is an possibility after doing a site survey food service could be set up in front of the security, Cantwell said.
Submissions of “statements of qualifications” from businesses are due by June 23.
St. Clair County Public Building Commission members supported looking for a concessionaire.
“It would be nice to get somebody in there,” said commissioner Richard Effinger.
Commissioner James Nations said for a food provider to be profitable, the airport will need to add more passengers.
“The margins are significantly different in an airport environment when you have a fundamentally captive audience, between the time you go through security and you get on the airplane,” Nations said. “Service on an airplane has deteriorated dramatically. A lot of people will buy their airplane food at the location.”
Commissioner Charles Lee said for food service providers to be profitable, they need to have beverage service as well.
“I don’t expect you can see any mom-and-pop operation to bid on this,” Lee said. “I know we’ve had our problems with our American Legion. We have the facility, the kitchen and everything there, and basically it’s a food-only type thing for them. It’s just not a money maker.”
Commission Chairman Richard Sauget said it may be difficult for a food provider to be profitable.
“You might even want to abate them a little bit, just to get them in there for six months just to let them get their feet on the ground,” Sauget said.