b'20 RDU CONCESSIONSof-house efficiencies the real beauty of a ghost kitchen.If we have nine concepts, the average consumer would think there is at least one employee for each concept back there, says Jason Johnson, owner of HUBB Kitchens, a culinary business incubator based in Raleigh that is the disadvantaged business enterpriseJASON JOHNSONpartner for RDUs virtual food hall initiative. But we have one core employee whose labor is split between nine concepts. With each food and beverage operator sharing costs for employees who support all nine concepts, Johnson deems this an operational win.We train the cooks for all nine brands on a flat top station, Johnson explains, noting that each cook executes a wide array of menu items. The only thing that is different is the items go in different Customers can place orders at kiosks packaging and different bags because of or from their own mobile devices. the brand it belongs to.Beating Projections80% of all concessions revenue. Theconcept takes at least six months and business traveler has not returned, andrequires a minimum investment ofEllison reports that the virtual food hall at now you have a completely different$500,000.RDU is surpassing REEFs own financial customer: the millennial generationYestimates. In fact, during its first full month The ability to customize as we go,of operation, the new concept pulled in and Zthat can work from anywhere. gives airports a competitive advantage, more sales than California Pizza Kitchen REEF recognizes that millennials areshe emphasizes. Beyond providingdid before the pandemic began. Even hopping on planes and traveling the worldconvenience and new options forthough traffic is still not at pre-COVID with their phones and other electronicspassengers, the virtual hall at RDU islevels, we are higher in sales, Ellison always in hand, she explains. They arealso proving popular with staff members.emphasizes. living on social media, and they are notWe believe that about one-third of the going to sit down to order a glass of wine. customers are airport and airline workers,The airport is declining to release which is also great because it is servingrevenue figures for the new ghost kitchen, While concessions at most airports areor to characterize its performance to not aligned with this new customer base,another need, Ellison remarks.date. That said, the virtual approach REEF allows RDU to customize its lineupIn terms of construction expenses, sheseems to be breathing new life into a accordingly. Whether it is options for dayestimates that REEFs digital wall conceptfood and beverage lineup ravaged by the partying, seasonal offerings or featurecosts one-third less than building outglobal pandemic. And it may not be long concepts, we have so many differenttypical airport concessions. She notesbefore more airports try the innovative merchandising and culinary types, Ellisonthat this is particularly important, becauseformat, too. notes.raising money is currently very difficult due to uncertainties about inflation andLos Angeles International added If a concept does not work, REEF canBreeze, a single concessionaire operating literally can swap it out overnight and addprivate equity funds.from a ghost kitchen, to its Shop and another offering from its portfolio of more than 150 brands, she adds. In contrast,Shared Resources Dine website lineup in early 2020. Ellison estimates that rebranding aDrilling down to operational issues and traditional airport food and beverageactual food prep, many consider back-November | December 2022AirportImprovement.com'