Airport food concessions: Maybe Bennigan’s, certainly Popeyes, among familiar names seeking contracts

By David Pendered

Bennigan’s may be trying to make a come-back in its hometown by opening a restaurant at Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The restaurant appears to be in the group of restaurants that are in a white-hot battle to win a food or drink concessions contract at Atlanta’s airport.

Fifty-eight companies are competing for just a dozen spaces at which they can open a restaurant or beverage location – 11 spaces located on concourses and one in the coveted Atrium. Some companies likely represent several restaurants.

An additional 113 food and beverage sites are being competitively bid at the airport. Those sites are intended for the big prime operators and their sub-tenants. Leases for all 125 spaces are to be signed later this year.

Bennigan’s appears to be in the hunt for one of the smaller deals.

Bennigan’s opened its first restaurant in Atlanta in 1976, ushering in the era of mid-priced casual dining. Bennigan’s rode the fern bar craze through multiple corporate owners before its parent filed bankruptcy in 2008 and closed the doors on all of its restaurants.

Now, a company named Four Leaf Ventures, LLC has filed papers to open a franchise at Atlanta’s airport. A company by the same name is slated to open a Bennigan’s later this month at the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, according to a report in the Dallas Business Journal.

Four Leaf Ventures, LLC was formed as an entity in Georgia on July 25, according to the Secretary of State. No further information is available on the state’s page.

Bennigan’s, though still just a possibility, is just one of several familiar faces vying for a presence at the airport.

Chow Baby Ponce, which in a half-decade has become a staple in Atlanta’s quick casual scene, is one local notable that’s trying to win an airport deal. Manuel’s Tavern is another local icon competing for space.

A company owned by long-time airport concessionaire Mack Wilbourn has filed papers for one or more spaces in the Atrium and Concourse A. Wilbourn may also be represented as a subtenant with prime operators who are vying for bigger packages of food and beverage concession space.

Wilbourn already is busy at the airport, and he is one of the nation’s more successful franchise operators.

His concessions include Edy’s Ice Cream and Popeyes Chicken, as a subtenant for prime operator Concessions/Paschals; a Popeyes Chicken as a subtenant for HMS Host/Taco Joy; and a Checkers Hamburger under his own prime contract with the airport, according to airport records.

Wilbourn was in the group of Atlanta’s business and political elite who were swept up in an airport corruption sting nearly 20 years ago. Wilbourn was acquitted in 1994 of charges of mail fraud and witness tampering by a federal jury.

But Wilbourn’s two co-defendants were convicted – former Atlanta City Councilman Ira Jackson, on 130 corruption charges of mail fraud, bribery and tax evasion; and Dan Paradies, on 83 counts of mail fraud and conspiracy to bribe, according to published accounts of the trial.

The Paradies name continues at Atlanta’s airport, where its website says Paradies runs a dozen shops – including Brooks Brothers in the Atrium and Lacoste on Concourse B.

Paradies-Atlanta II, LLC, which is based at the company’s headquarters on Fulton Industrial Boulevard, has filed proposals to run some or all of the 11 retail locations being leased on Concourse E and Concourse F. These are new contracts, and Paradies will continue with its existing contracts.

The 1994 case was not related to another airport corruption case that the city opted to end this year. In the most recent case, a federal jury awarded a $17.5 million verdict to Atlanta businessman Billy Corey in a case filed in 2004. Corey contended politics factored into the award of an airport contract.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed decided in April to end the city’s involvement by paying $3.9 million to settle the city’s share of the verdict awarded to Corey.

Here’s a snapshot of the final four packages of food and beverage concessions that were unveiled for Atlanta’s airport. The bids were opened last week by the city’s Procurement Department.

(To see the names of vendors whose bids were already opened, please click on this link for a previous article on SaportaReport.com).

 

Package No. 6 – Two food and beverage concessions located on Concourse D; and two separate food and beverage concessions locations on Concourse T:

  • Global Concessions;
  • Creative Food Group, LLC;
  • D.M. Patel & Co., Inc.;
  • Atlanta Airport Restaurant, LLC;
  • Trinity Group Global, LLC;
  • Atlanta Restaurant Partners;
  • MCE/MBC, joint venture;
  • Four Leaf Ventures, LLC;
  • Ballard Enterprises;
  • Chow Baby Ponce, LLC
  • CMS, joint venture;
  • Southern International Concessions, LLC;
  • WM Lewis Group.

 

Package No. 7: Three food and beverage concessions locations on Concourse B and Concourse F:

  • Premier Management LLC Atlanta, joint venture;
  • The Grove, Inc.;
  • Global Concessions;
  • Creative Food Group, LLC;
  • D.M. Patel & Co., Inc.;
  • Atlanta Airport Restaurant, LLC;
  • Trinity Group Global, LLC;
  • Atlanta Restaurant Partners;
  • S.H.R. Holdings;
  • MCE/MBC, joint venture;
  • Joco Gold, LLC, joint venture;
  • Four Leaf Ventures, LLC;
  • COA Special Venues, LLC;
  • Chow Baby Ponce, LLC;
  • CMS, joint venture.

 

Package No. 8 – Two food and beverage concessions located on Concourse A, and one food and beverage concession located at the Atrium:

  • Premier Management LLC Atlanta, joint venture;
  • The Grove, Inc.;
  • Global Concessions;
  • SJAL Atl Airport, LLC;
  • Take-Off Concessions, LLC;
  • Atlanta Airport Restaurant, LLC;
  • Beyond Your Expectations, LLC;
  • Mack II, Inc.;
  • Trinity Group Global, LLC;
  • AJAS, LLC;
  • Atlanta Restaurant Partners;
  • Atlanta Concessions Enterprises, Inc.;
  • MCE/MBC, joint venture;
  • Four Leaf Ventures, LLC;
  • Sabevi, LLC;
  • COA Special Venues, LLC;
  • OHM-Swift Services, LLC;
  • Chow Baby Ponce, LLC;
  • CMS, joint venture.

 

Package No. 9 – Two food and beverage concessions located on Concourse C:

  • The Grove, Inc.;
  • Global Concessions;
  • Take-Off Concessions;
  • D.M. Patel & Co., Inc.;
  • Atlanta Airport Restaurant, LLC;
  • Yong Kuai Enterprises;
  • Ultimate Concessions;
  • Charles Bush Consulting, LLC;
  • Vida Vilocity Management, LLC;
  • Airport Foods, Inc.;
  • CMS, joint venture.

 

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

2 replies
  1. MAllen says:

    I checked the State’s website and Four Leaf Venture shows they filed on 7/25/11, but the status shows them as “flawed/deficient”. I guess that would disqualify them, according to the City’s RFP.Report

    Reply
  2. sdfoodie says:

    ONLY MY OPINION, BUT…ATL CHEFS AND EATERS BE WARNED. CALL YOUR FRIENDS IN SAN DIEGO AND SEE HOW THEY FARED WITH OTG. OTG CANT WIN THE BIG RFPS. THEY CAME IN DEAD LAST!!! THEY CAN ONLY DO INSIDE DEALS WITH AIRLINES. THEY COME TO TOWN, TALK A GOOD GAME, SIGNED UP WAY MORE CHEFS THAN THEY NEED. INSIST ON EXCLUSIVITY. THEN DIDNT EVEN USE ALL OF US. THEY TRY TO LOCK EM UP AWAY FROM THE COMPETITION. REAL SPOILERS. AND AGAIN, THEY CANT WIN THE BIG RFPS. DEAD LAST.Report

    Reply

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