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May 18, 2011 09:13 AM

MSP Airport Restaurant Madness

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  1. Very cool. I especially look forward to Zimmern's place.

    2 Replies
    1. re: SmartCookie

      Are they going to be on the normal, or the secure side of the TSA gates?

      1. re: shadowfax

        It says it's in Concourse G which is definitely after security and sadly a Concourse I rarely ever fly out of, but I might have to start getting to the airport extra early for this!

        I had seen something on Victory 44's Facebook page a few days ago about them being involved in this, but I had no idea it had this many rockstar chefs involved. This is super cool news and a much needed boost to our airport. Surdyk's is great, but it shouldn't be the best dining experience there.

        Victory 44
        2203 44th Ave N, Minneapolis, MN

    2. I just hope that they can avoid the "airport food" mentality. As someone who flies out of MSP every week, it would be nice to get something different. You already know that you're going to pay a lot of money for whatever you order. It would be nice if it could taste good too!

        1. What a shame that good people are going to spend good money and good time on this concept. Airports are for passing through to someplace different or returning home as fast as you can. I'd rather spend my money at my destination or someplace at home. I predict this will be a colossal failure. And Zimmern's "Minne Bar?" That will be the first place to fail.

          8 Replies
          1. re: SarahInMinneapolis

            On paper it seems like a good concept, but a terrible location - no one wants to be at the airport any longer than they have to... I know Delta isn't known for their service, but unless every flight is delayed I don't see how this is going to be sustainable.

            1. re: mull0263

              Until the post- 9/11 clamp down, when you could get into the concourses just by passing through a metal detector and without having to have a boarding pass, lots of people ate and shopped at the airport. It was pretty much a mall with jet noises in some places. I agree with you though - I don't think it'll (ahem) fly, with the only customers being passengers who are already mad at all the add-on fees they just paid for their flight.

              1. re: shadowfax

                Certainly a large percentage of the people on the G concourse are either flying for business (so they didn't pay for the ticket) or are wealthy people jetting somewhere nice (so they don't care).

                Personally I'd pay the extra dough to not have to eat at Chili's Too.

            2. re: SarahInMinneapolis

              MSP is a major connection hub with a lot of layovers...I presume this is their reasoning.

              I also think the celebrity-eaters restaurant will go first.

              1. re: Foureyes137

                International fliers typically arrive at the airport as much as three hours before their flight, leaving them at a minimum about 1.5 - 2 hours to kill in the airport. Given the cosmically distressing fare served on the airplane, it seems a pretty good gamble to me that people will stop and either pick up food to eat on the flight, or consume prior to boarding. The concept is being launched on the Gold concourse near the international departures. I see no issue with making a bold statement by offering presumably better offerings, especially if they're not run by MarriottHost.

                As for the other fliers in the airport on layover, it's a no-brainer. Who wouldn't want more and better choices for food? Ever tried to eat at Midway in Chicago? LaGuardia? Newark? MSP is already completely over-run with really bad fast-food food court offerings. Upping the level of expectation for decent food gives me no gas.

                As for Zimmern, he's been a pretty outspoken critic of the food and service quality options at the airport, deriding others who have leant their names to really badly managed outlets at the airport. He will have a lot of ego invested, I would imagine, to avoid that happening to him. In any event, it will be interesting to see how the ball swings for all these folks. I wish them well. I travel a lot and will definitely patronize these places once they're running.



                1. re: HuaGung

                  The issue, in my experience, is that regardless of the ego investment or intent to offer "presumably better offerings" there is no way of getting around the fact that whoever puts their name on the front of the place is leaving almost 100% of the operations up to the vendor who operates the concessions for the airport.

                  My experience is not with MSP or MariottHost, but i know for a fact that in order to get the rights to put their names on the newer restaurants at SFO the companies had to cede all hiring, operations, equipment, menu pricing, ordering, and hours decisions to the monolithic company that runs every shop in the airport. I am not saying that they cannot still imbue one of these new places with an ethos consistent with the name, or that these restaurants can't be vast improvements over existing fast-food options, but the odds of the nominal proprietor having any actual influence over the way the places are run are just about nothin.

                  1. re: tex.s.toast

                    I am in complete agreement with your sentiment, which is why I was surprised, a lot, that Zimmern stuck his neck out on this one. He's been very outspoken for all the reasons you cited. I can't imagine how he envisions overcoming these big limitations.

                    I wish success for him and all the others. BUT, I am also a cynical schmo who is anxiously waiting for the back-pedaling next winter.



              2. re: SarahInMinneapolis

                As someone who has often been unable to locate so much as a bar seat in some of the existing establishments, I'm inclined to disagree. People are spending enough money to keep not one, but two Wok and Roll locations afloat.

                With security wait times clocking on close to an hour, my best bet is to arrive at an airport obscenely early, and work from the airport for a couple of hours. Usually, I can expense my meal, so I will order one. If an airport can offer genuinely interesting eats, more people will embrace the concept.

                Also, MSP is a hub, which means layovers.

                Wok and Roll
                4300 Glumack Dr Ste C16, Saint Paul, MN 55111

              3. Anybody saying that there won't be market for these place doesn't fly on a regular basis and truly doesn't understand the traffic flow at MSP. In fact, the MAC is undertaking a big parking lot addition because the current lots are often full. So it's not even just int'l and layover flyers. There are a lot of locals flying in and out. Just a few ago Delta delayed my flight five times before canceling it and putting me on the late flight. I spent six hours at MSP and ate an okay beef stew sandwich. I would have gladly tried somewhere else (assuming they had beer).

                4 Replies
                1. re: GutGrease

                  I agree, GutGrease. I fly on a regular basis, and living near two major hub airports, I rarely have layovers anywhere. The time it takes to fly includes the travel time to the airport, the time between arriving at the airport and the departure (always allowing plenty of time in case there are long waits to get through security), and the flight time itself, all adds up to anywhere from half a day to a full day or more. And unless you're going first class (I don't), most flights now give you no food at all, or bad food for a high price. Eating at either end may be a viable option when you're on a one-hour flight, but not when you're traveling four hours cross-country. I often wind up eating at the airport, even at my home airport, because the alternative is basically no food for a long stretch of the day.

                  These are some of the reasons why airport food has improved dramatically at many airports around the country. In the past, airport food has been generally dreadful, with only a few exceptions. But in recent years, airport managements have found that they can get more revenue and profit by offering higher quality food. That's why a lot of airports have totally revamped their concessions. I've had some pretty good food at airports in recent years - not necessarily destination-worthy, but tasty and decent, and I'm glad when those options are available. Maybe this will succeed, maybe not. (It's not my money at risk, so I don't worry about it.) But a lot of other airports have been successful when they've upgraded their food concession options.

                  I'm surprised anyone would deride the idea, though. To me, it seems like the availability of more options for better food is always a good thing.

                  1. re: nsxtasy

                    I agree with all of the above and will add that when I'm flying, if I know that there's a good eating option in an airport, I'll actually make a point of arriving early to grab a meal. Especially if those options aren't available anywhere outside the airport.

                    1. re: drew13000

                      >> when I'm flying, if I know that there's a good eating option in an airport, I'll actually make a point of arriving early to grab a meal.

                      Good point. I sorta kinda do that too, when I allow extra time to get through security. If they're not backed up, that leaves me plenty of time to grab a meal; if it turns out they are backed up, I'll grab something quick or a carry-out to eat on the plane.

                      The whole "how much time to allow at the airport" has become something of a crapshoot. A week ago, I was on a flight that left the gate ten minutes BEFORE its scheduled departure time...

                    2. re: nsxtasy

                      I echo all that. Frequent flyers know all about which airports have decent food options ... and we sometimes arrange our connections or layovers so that we can have a stopover with a decent meal. During a full day of traveling, it can be that or a bag of trail mix.