Business & Real Estate

Sacramento International Airport to get six new restaurants, with an emphasis on local fare

Sacramento International Airport will get a culinary makeover in the next two years, with restaurants in Terminal A slated to close July 31 and six new restaurants opening next spring.

The project will be handled by SSP America, an operator of food outlets in airports worldwide and one of the companies that runs restaurants in the airport’s new Terminal B, which focused on including outposts of local eateries rather than national chains. Under the 10-year, $80 million contract, SSP will bring Peet’s Coffee to Terminal A, along with three local spots: burger joint Squeeze Inn, Italian restaurant Paesanos and comfort food purveyor Cafeteria 15L, which already has a restaurant in Terminal B.

In a news release, SSP America said that the food served in the airport will be “identical” to offerings at the restaurants’ locations outside the airport in Sacramento.

Rounding out the new restaurants, Toronto-based Freshii will serve salads, burritos and smoothies, while SSP-operated Urban Crave will offer burgers and sandwiches.

Pat Murray, SSP America’s executive vice president, said the restaurants open in Terminal B and coming to Terminal A reflect a nationwide movement toward unique, localized airport food options. Murray said the trend took off in 2007, driven by the popularity of the Food Network, which helped make Americans more discerning about what they ate. Before that shift started, “the branding in airports had begun to look like middle-America malls,” Murray said.

Mason Wong, owner of Cafeteria 15L, said he decided to open the first airport outpost of his restaurant because he was excited about the chance to bring a taste of Sacramento to visitors as soon as they arrive. Based on the steady flow of customers to the Terminal B location, Wong decided expanding to Terminal A would be a good business move.

“We’ve been well-supported by our regular locals in particular who now plan ahead and grab a bite before they hop on their flight,” Wong said.

Airport spokeswoman Laurie Slothower said SSP America won the contract for Terminal A because HMSHost, which operates the existing restaurants, could not secure funding for improvements. Slothower said SSP America has pledged to spend several million dollars enhancing storefronts and equipment.

During the construction, temporary vendors operated by SSP will serve hamburgers, pizza, sandwiches and coffee.

Murray said the temporary vendors will be designed to look like permanent restaurants, so passengers won’t find generic cardboard packaging or drab signage when they visit Terminal A during the renovations.

“It won’t look like a hospital cafeteria,” Murray said.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee