Long Beach Municipal Revamps its Retail & Food/Beverage Program

Jodi Richards
Published in: 

For Airport Director Mario Rodriguez, the $45 million concourse project nearing completion at Long Beach Municipal (LGB) is about far more than providing enough capacity to move people through the facility. “We want to make sure that they move through in a very nice way,” he specifies. “We want to make sure they’re comfortable.”

A completely revamped concessions program figures prominently into achieving that goal. Everything from the layout and design of the space to the culinary and retail offerings is designed to reflect the city of Long Beach and provide the “sense of place” airport officials say is key to providing the ultimate customer service experience.


Concessions Overhaul

Location: Long Beach (CA) Municipal Airport

The Paradies Shops

Contract Duration:
10 years

Studio One Eleven

Approx. Size: 8,000 sq. ft.

Of Note:
Amenities include a wine bar; food marketplace with grab-and-go options; outdoor courtyard seating with a fireplace & firetable.

The Paradies Shops has been operating the retail concessions at LGB since early 2006, but its new 10-year contract spans retail and food/beverage. When the airport issued requests for proposals regarding a new retail program, food/beverage lineup and a bar location, Paradies responded and was awarded all three bids in spring 2012.

Bruce Feuer, vice president of business development for Paradies, believes that LGB’s new ambiance and high quality of food/beverage offerings will provide a unique travel experience and even encourage customers to arrive early. “We want to bring a customer service experience to Long Beach travelers that they haven’t seen before,” Feuer explains.

Customers will experience a “wow” in the new concourses, he predicts. “They can relax, shop, browse and, frankly, order exceptional food.”

Specific locations include: Polly’s Gourmet Coffee & Sweet Jill’s Bakery, George’s Greek Café, Long Beach Burger Bar by McKenna’s, Taco Beach Cantina, McKenna’s on the Fly, 4th Street Vine, Long Beach Business Journal News & Long Beach Experience, and CNBC News Long Beach.

“We’re really bringing incredible quality at street pricing to people flying out of the airport,” says Leslie Christon, Paradies’ vice president of food and beverage. “It’s going to be an exceptional experience.”

The Local Angle

LGB officials stressed the importance of creating a “sense of place,” by bringing the culture and food of Long Beach into the airport, notes Feuer. Working with local entities, Paradies selected proven local brands and restaurants that would be a good fit for the new concourses.

The company looked for “best-in-class” partners to provide the right brands for the city’s gateway, adds Christon. The local companies and Paradies’ own chefs and sommeliers then worked together to select specific offerings that truly represent the “Long Beach experience,” she explains.

At the city’s suggestion, Paradies contracted local architecture and design firm Studio One Eleven to devise the aesthetic packaging of the airport’s new concessions space. “Studio One Eleven has a great understanding of the city’s vision for Long Beach that they were able to tie into the design elements,” Christon notes.

“Our attitude for the airport was to create a really hip, forward-thinking interior that reflects Long Beach’s beach-side, waterfront resort feel,” explains Michael Bohn, principal at Studio One Eleven. To that end, the airport’s wine bar (4th Street Vine) includes a table with a fire pit in the center and the seafood specialist (McKenna’s on the Fly) includes a fireplace. Both front the patio, allowing customers to spill out into the courtyard, which is outfitted with outdoor seating to help passengers enjoy the southern California climate. “Otherwise, [the courtyard] is just this really beautiful, almost sedate place you walk through,” he notes. “We wanted it to be a place you could hang out.”

Christon describes the concessions program as “an amazing selection in an incredible space.” Further, she considers LGB a “visionary” for its part: “They have worked with us to design a space that is going to be unlike any other airport in the United States. To be able to sit outside, relax with a fireplace and enjoy food and drink and watch planes take off … where else can you get that kind of experience?”

Studio One Eleven worked closely with the airport and Paradies to ensure that the design presented a high-end, quality-looking space that was durable enough to withstand more than 3 million annual travelers — and keep it on budget, Bohn notes. Further, he considers all of the concessions locations unique, with designs that are both function and environmentally sustainable.

Bohn says his team was careful to choose local materials whenever possible. But when a local product wasn’t the best option, green was the next priority. For example, buffed concrete is the predominant flooring in the retail space. Because it’s a material that is not covered up with another material such as carpet or tile, it saves money and provides a greener option, Bohn explains.  A living wall was added in the terrace to not only absorb sound, but also to create a soothing, relaxed environment for travelers.

The chophouse is finished with marble, reclaimed wood and leather booths to provide a formal feel. Conversely, the wine bar is more casual and even includes a daybed where passengers can relax and sip their vino. “If people enjoy the environment and are relaxing, hopefully they’ll also spend more money or come earlier to have dinner,” Bohn relates.

Essence of Long Beach

Retail locations at LGB reflect their off-airport counterparts. For example, the Long Beach Clothing Company’s main location has a 1940s display window that cantilevers out and contains a bike. The airport location will feature a curved window, framed in reclaimed wood, with a bike or skateboard. “We thought, without being literal, we would do the same thing,” Bohn explains.

A sharrow lane on the ground of the shop invokes the bicycle-friendly culture of the city, while art on the walls depicts classic, iconic images of Long Beach. Images of water figure prominently “to reflect what people know nationally and also show how the residents use and engage with the water,” Bohn explains.

Throughout the retail space, Studio One Eleven sought to complement vendors’ existing designs and create a contemporary, forward-thinking aesthetic that is still very warm and inviting.

“We think this could be a wonderful model for other airports,” Bohn notes. “Airports tend to have this ‘placelessness’ about them. You could be in a lot of different airports, and they all have the same look, feel and materials.”

Instead of trying to replicate the historic features of 4th Street Vine, Studio One Eleven’s use of color and décor “captures the essence of the wine bar,” he notes. The design goal was to create a space that would have the same feel, but a much more modern presentation.

The Marche, an area where travelers can purchase food from different vendors but pay in one transaction, provides what Bohn calls a “market hall experience.” It is not designed as a series of individual shops, but rather a large space with various vendors, he explains. Offerings will include freshly prepared sushi, a yogurt bar, soup station and various grab-and-go options. “The intent is to make that an experience by itself,” Bohn adds.

The décor of the Marche includes reclaimed wood, nautical lights and green and blue tiles to “abstractly recall the coastal character of Long Beach,” relates Bohn. Outside the Marche is an outdoor terrace with palm trees, cabanas, seating the color of California poppies and oranges, and views of the airport’s historic terminal.

Throughout the project, designers focused on making a good first impression to passengers disembarking from aircraft. “Because this really is the gateway to the city, we wanted to make this experience as unique, gratifying and Long Beach-like as we could,” Bohn explains.

According to Christon, Paradies expects to employ about 100 people in its new retail and food/beverage locations.


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