Int'l Terminal at LAX Receives Retail & Dining Makeover

Jodi Richards
Published in: 

Part of the $1.9 billion renovation and expansion of the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is the dramatic $79.8 million redevelopment of its concessions program by The Westfield Group and its partners. When complete, the terminal will feature more than 60 dining and retail options designed to greatly enhance passengers' experience in the new terminal. More than 40 will be located in the 150,000-square-foot great hall, Antonio Villaraigosa Pavilion.



Project: Redeveloped Concessions

Location: Los Angeles Int'l Airport

Specific Area: New Tom Bradley Int'l Terminal

Owner: Los Angeles World Airports

Villaraigosa Pavilion: 150,000 sq. ft. of food, beverage and retail space

Terminal Concessions Manager: The Westfield Group

Food & Beverage Partners: Areas USA; Branded Works; CMS Hospitality; HMSHost; Taste Inc.

Retail Partners: Joint venture comprised of Hudson Group Retail & local partners, including equity partner Concourse Ventures & disadvantaged business enterprises Palazzo Concessions; The Zaman Group; MAJ Collection; Arandia Designs;LS Travel Retail North America; Raymond Enterprise LAX; Soto & Sanchez

Originally constructed in 1984, TBIT was not built to meet the needs of today's traveler and did not have sufficient concessions beyond the security checkpoint, explains Roger Johnson, deputy executive director of Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA).

The new duty-free store, which recently moved from its pre-security location, experienced a "significant uptake in sales" following its debut after the TSA checkpoint, Johnson reports.

Other concessions have come online gradually since the terminal's mid-September opening. After most are operating, pre-security amenities will be closed to facilitate work on Phase 2, which is scheduled to end in June 2015 and also debut via a phased opening.

New Approach

Overhauling the passenger experience was at the forefront when Westfield developed the new concessions program, explains Eileen Hanson, the company's vice president of marketing. A significant part included infusing the flavors of Los Angeles into the terminal.

"It really didn't scream L.A.," Hanson says of the previous concessions mix. "As airports have evolved, that's a huge focus of Westfield - to make sure that the passenger experience really represents the best of Los Angeles, and bringing in global, recognized, iconic brands as well."

HMSHost, which won the food and beverage contract for the terminal, worked to extend the philosophy to its locations as well. "L.A. has an awesome culinary culture," remarks Joe Waller, vice president of business development for HMSHost.

New dining options feature celebrated Los Angeles chefs and local brands that have never been in an airport before. Hanson highlights ink.sack from Michael Voltaggio, winner of the Top Chef television competition, as a "great example of bringing a fantastic chef-driven concept in L.A. into an airport."

According to Waller, the biggest current trend in the food business is consumers' strong desire for high quality food. "I don't mean necessarily high-end food," he qualifies. "I mean high quality food." Even fast food restaurants are touting their work with well-known chefs and use of local and/or fresh products, he explains. "That is a reflection of the fact that people are demanding to know where their food comes from; they want to know that it's been thoughtfully prepared and will taste good." Each of the dining concepts in the new TBIT reflects that trend, adds Waller.

Both dining and retail options were broadened to reflect what today's travelers want and expect to find - especially in an international terminal, says Hanson. "With the lineup that we have at Tom Bradley, we have the range that really meets all of the needs of different passengers," she says. Retail options range from newspapers to designer accessories; food/beverage offerings include both quick snacks and full, gourmet experiences, Hanson notes 

While Westfield is new to LAX, it holds two separate contracts with LAWA: the first for the new TBIT, Terminal 2 and the Theme Building; and the second to manage concessions for Terminals 1, 3 and 6.

Districts, not Divisions

The great hall is patterned after an old-world piazza, with a distinct lack of definition between concession and gate areas - a design that distinguishes it from most other terminals. "The airport was great in working with us to make some of those enhancements, so it really does blur the line," says Hanson.

Michael Doucette, LAWA project manager, explains it this way: "We were trying to create the flavor where even if you're waiting for your flight, you may be sitting in a concession where you have visibility of the holdroom; you don't know whether you're in a holdroom or concession space."

This non-traditional use of space affects the way people circulate through the building, which will "greatly enhance" TBIT's concessions program, he predicts.

"There should be no reason for a passenger - with this beautiful environment and the great range of shopping and dining options at Tom Bradley - to sit at their gate for two hours before they board," Hanson adds. "They're going to want to be exploring the terminal and enjoying the great space and shopping and dining."

Concessions in the new terminal are divided into five different "districts:"

• The Mezzanine Lounge, with lounge seating and luxury dining options such as III Forks, Lucky Fish by Sushi Roku and Drink.LA

• Luxury Island, featuring open ceilings, sculptured seating and flow-through, high-end retail including Fred Segal, Bvlgari and Michael Kors

• The Dining Terrace, which highlights local dining concepts such as 800 Degrees Pizza and Umami Burger and restaurants associated with celebrity chefs, including Border Grill and Larder at Tavern

• Edge Lounge, a workspace with copious electronic outlets and floor-to-ceiling windows

• The Boutique District, with storefronts inspired by the iconic boutiques of Rodeo Drive and Melrose. Upscale retail outlets include Kitson and Porsche Design and artisanal dining such as ink.sack, CHAYA and Vino Volo.

Westfield also created additional common areas and selected furniture, banquettes and seating to create an "upscale, airport lounge vibe for all the passengers," she adds. "You don't have to have special access to the airline lounges to enjoy beautifully designed areas where you can relax in a big comfortable chair and have an outlet to plug in your phone."

From a visual standpoint, Hanson says the new retail array "really takes your breath away." Westfield devised the layout to complement the design of the building with pass-through boutiques that take advantage of the open, light-filled terminal and do not obstruct views of the mountains or the runway. "It's just visually striking," she adds.

The retail spaces were also designed with open ceilings, so passengers can look up and see the art roofline and large-scale digital displays. 

Transparency and open designs are also present on the dining side, where performance kitchens allow airport visitors to see their food being prepared.

LAX gave visitors a sneak peek at the terminal's new concessions and other features at a public preview day in late June, before the official opening in mid September.

Eat, Shop, Repeat

About 30,000 square feet of the new Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is devoted to food and beverage options. The terminal's 31 locations include nine pre-security offerings and 22 post-security. Of those, 17 are local Los Angeles brands, 18 concepts are new to LAX and 18 are airport firsts.

Noteworthy options include:

Border Grill: upscale Mexican fare from Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken of Top Chef Masters

Chaya: modern Euro-Asian eatery featuring exotic ingredients and fresh fish

James' Beach: award-winning, modern American comfort food from Venice Beach

LAMILL Coffee: freshly roasted, direct-trade coffee and tea from the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles

Petrossian Caviar & Champagne Bar: luxury delicacies including caviar, artisanal cheese and fine wines

Short Cake: artisanal Los Angeles bakery that serves small versions of classic confections

Starbucks Evenings: wine and light bites form a twist on the well-known coffee shop; one of the first in the country

Umami Burger: a Los Angeles-based concept that received GQ magazine's "Burger of the Year" award

About 25,000 square feet of the redeveloped terminal is devoted to retail concessions, with 10 pre-security and 20 post-security locations. Stores run
the gamut from Coach and Kitson LA to 7-Eleven and CNN Newsstand Los Angeles. Other options include Hudson, Hugo Boss, Travel + Leisure,
Virgin Mobile/Boost Mobile and XpresSpa.



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