New look planned for air­port eater­ies

Chick-fil-A to an­chor re­vamped din­ing lineup

The Buffalo News - - CITY&REGION - By Robert J. McCarthy NEWS PO­LIT­I­CAL RE­PORTER

Those fa­mil­iar long car lines aren’t ex­pected for the area’s sec­ond Chick-filA grand open­ing, but fans of the chain may fly in from around the coun­try this fall when its new­est res­tau­rant de­buts at Buf­falo Ni­a­gara In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

Chick-fil-A, which is still draw­ing over­flow crowds to its Walden Avenue lo­ca­tion af­ter open­ing in Novem­ber, is set to an­chor an en­tirely new res­tau­rant area at Buf­falo Ni­a­gara as con­ces­sion­aire Delaware North aims for a new look.

Air­port of­fi­cials un­veiled plans Thurs­day, not­ing that “un­der­per­form­ing” con­ces­sions Villa Pizza, Check­ers, WhichWich, BUF Bar and Mat­ties will be leav­ing the air­port’s two con­ces­sion ar­eas. Delaware North will re­place them in stages with Chick-fil-A, its new Elm­wood Food + Drink con­cept, and an An­nie’s that has per­formed well at Austin Bergstrom In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Texas.

“This will be gang-busters at the air


port,” said Lee Weitz, the Ni­a­gara Fron­tier Trans­porta­tion Author­ity’s as­sis­tant avi­a­tion di­rec­tor. “We are very ex­cited.”

Buf­falo-based Delaware North said Thurs­day it is not yet ready to of­fer fi­nal plans, but looks for­ward to con­tin­u­ing the op­er­a­tions it started at Buf­falo Ni­a­gara back in 1952.

“Delaware North is ex­cited to be work­ing with the NFTA on the food and bev­er­age ren­o­va­tion at the Buf­falo Ni­a­gara In­ter­na­tional Air­port,” said Kevin Kelly, pres­i­dent of Delaware North travel that runs con­ces­sions in 18 U.S. air­ports. “We are putting to­gether a com­pelling din­ing lineup that will prove once again why JD Power ranked the Buf­falo air­port num­ber one in cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion. We look for­ward to shar­ing more about the new con­cepts in the near fu­ture.”

NFTA of­fi­cials pro­vided a sneak peak on Thurs­day, point­ing to plans for the new Elm­wood Food + Drink slated for the eastern end of the con­course near the Delta and South­west gates. Weitz said about 50 per­cent of the air­port’s con­ces­sion busi­ness takes place there, and more busi­ness is now ex­pected. “This will go very well down there,” he said.

Weitz said Elm­wood Food + Drink, de­vel­oped by Delaware North, of­fers grab-and-go food and wares, as well as a ca­sual din­ing area and a bar. An­other Delaware North con­ces­sion – An­nies – is also slated for the air­port and will of­fer pas­tries, sand­wiches, burg­ers, pani­nis, sal­ads and espresso. Weitz said An­nies has proven a “phe­nom­e­nal” suc­cess at its air­port op­er­a­tions in Austin.

He said the author­ity looks to con­tinue of­fer­ing pizza at the air­port, and has held ini­tial con­ver­sa­tions with lo­cal restau­rants like Im­pe­rial Pizza and Just Pizza.

Some as­pects of the over­all project may not be com­pleted un­til 2020, he added.

Hun­dreds of fans of Chick­fil-A lined up for open­ing day at the chain’s first area out­let on Walden Avenue in Cheek­towaga in Novem­ber. And the steady stream of cus­tomers in search of its uber-pop­u­lar sauce con­tin­ues to flow into the fran­chise.

Delaware North will add its new Elm­wood Food + Drink con­cept to its ros­ter of new restau­rants at the air­port.

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