Some well-known Sacramento restaurant operators open shop this week at Sacramento International Airport's new terminal, bringing local flavor to fliers.
But will the airport food be as good?
Randy Paragary of Esquire Grill says yes. Burgers and Brew owner Derar Zawaydeh says that's his intent as well.
Versions of their downtown restaurants are among 14 food outlets and cafes awaiting travelers along with 10 new retail shops when the $1 billion airport opens Thursday.
"The kitchen will prepare the food the exact same way," Paragary said during a recent inspection of his stylish new airport site. "We are very protective of our brand and reputation. We don't take this lightly."
Prices likely will be higher than the street versions, but airport officials said vendors aren't allowed to charge more than 10 percent above their regular restaurants.
Zawaydeh said a Burgers and Brew 1/3-pound cheeseburger at the airport will be $7.89 with fries or salad. A similar burger at his outside restaurants is larger, at half a pound, but costs $7.25. Zawaydeh said the price difference reflects higher business costs at the airport.
Other local eateries at the new airport: Dos Coyotes, Cafeteria 15L, Jack's Urban Eats, Java City Eco-Grounds cafe and Old Soul Co. cafe and bakery.
Old Soul co-owner Jason Griest said he has chosen a "unique bean" he likes from El Salvador to serve exclusively at the airport.
Regional and national food and beverage outlets include Vino Volo wine bar, Famous Famiglia Italian restaurant, Gateway Bar, Camden Food company quick-serve outlet and Healthy Living, which specializes in organic packaged snacks.
The Esquire Grill, located in the concourse beyond security, will be the only full-service restaurant. It will offer part of its K Street restaurant's lunch and dinner menus including steak and petrale sole cooked to order and breakfast dishes from Cafe Bernardo.
The main difference, Paragary said: "We just have to get the orders in faster. Speed is very important here."
The speed factor should be easier for Burgers and Brew, which is used to dealing with downtown state workers on half-hour lunch breaks. "We're used to high volume," Zawaydeh said.
The restaurants will be managed by national chains that specialize in airport service. Officials with one of those companies, HMSHost, said that in a few months they will offer a smart phone app called B4YouBoard that allows fliers to order online at Esquire Grill and at Burgers and Brew, and have their food delivered to them at their boarding gate.
Although national companies will manage the eateries, local businesses determine the menus and train the cooks. The food is purchased from the vendors who supply their regular restaurants.
Airport officials say they expect travelers and visitors to spend $25 million on food, beverages and store items in the first year.
That excites Donna Williams Tielsch, owner of Visions of Eden, an Old Sacramento specialty gifts store that landed a spot in the airport.
Among the other stores: Experience Sacramento apparel and gifts; Brighton jewelry, handbags and accessories; Brookstone electronics and luggage; InMotion music, movies and electronics; Lacoste apparel; and Erwin Pearl fashion jewelry. There are several news and gifts stores, including a Sacramento Bee store in the baggage claim area.
Tielsch said she likes Visions of Eden's location. "We're 'airside,' which is the best. It's a captive audience. They're waiting for a flight. They have time to shop."
She said the store will offer "gifts for the home, garden, body and soul" like those in her Old Sacramento store. Some items, however, will be chosen from elsewhere by Paradies Shops, the national company that has contracted with her to manage the outlet.
"It will be a nice mix," she said.