EAT-IN for LAX Contract at Patina - All Star Team of L.A. Restaurateurs Stage ‘Eat In’

(Los Angeles, CA) July 29, 2010 - There seems to be a lot of talk, bordering on controversy, about the food fare at LAX, (or lack there of), one of the busiest and most recognized airports in the country.  In a city as rich in global prominence and diversity as Los Angeles, one would think that food service would be one of the things that travelers going through LAX would brag about; but not so.  If you ever travel into or out of LAX, you would be flabbergasted at the limited food choices available.  It’s not surprising that LA landed on JD Power’s among the worst airports.  The survey  measured six categories for large airports: accessibility, baggage claim, check-in, terminal facilities, security check, food and retail services.

LAX bold and proud

Perhaps there’s light at the end of the jet-way, as owners from more than a dozen of Los Angeles’ best and most exciting restaurants hosted an ‘Eat In’ at the world famous Patina restaurant.  Chef's offered up preview samples of the cuisines that would be available at  the airport if Los Angeles City Board of Referred Powers approves a proposal submitted by SSP America to replace the existing food service offerings with award-winning L.A. fare to millions of travelers throughout terminals 4, 5, 7 and 8.

SSP Chair

Joachim Splichal, chef and founder of Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse – which along with the Market Café, is part of Splichal’s Patina Restaurant Group – could not attend the event, but said in a statement: “We’re ready to bring the very best food that Los Angeles has to offer to the airport.  We just want city officials to give us the chance.  As a chef and as an Angeleno, I’m really excited about the opportunity to serve our food at the airport.”

A delicious fare

A travelers delight

“This is a world class food city and we are really proud to be joining L.A.’s culinary community in its commitment to help make LAX one of the world’s best airports,” said Pat Murray, Senior Vice President at SSP America, which oversees food and beverage services at more than 40 North American airports and co-hosted the event. “The airport management plans to spend nearly $1 billion upgrading and expanding its facilities in the coming years, and they understand that it’s crucial to upgrade the travelers’ dining experience as well.  We are extremely pleased that the airport management recognized the quality and strength of our proposal and recommended it for selection.”

A flavorful sampling

Soul food delight

Chef Susan Feniger, co-owner  of the celebrated Border Grill and Ciudad restaurants, along with Chef Mary Sue Milliken, said, “The airport is our culinary window to the world.  The way people experience and perceive Los Angeles begins at LAX and food is a major part of that experience.  Being part of the top notch group of chefs and restaurateurs in the SSP America package proposal, we get to give everyone traveling through LAX a taste of the real and unique flavors of Los Angeles – if the City will let us.”

and gourmet sliders

Refreshing shakes...

“All of us have been successful operating restaurants in one of the most competitive and discriminating markets in the world,” said Andrew Cherng, co-founder and co-chair of the Panda Restaurant Group, Inc.  “We know what it takes to deliver high quality food and service in high volume locations.  We know that travelers at LAX will be very pleased with what we have to offer.”

Andrew Cherng, co-founder of Panda Express

Partners with SSP America for the LAX airport food and beverage service include:
• Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse
• Market Café
• Border Grill Taqueria
• Panda Express
    •    Geisha House from the Dolce Restaurant GroupSpuntino from Nancy Silverton of Michael’s, Spago, Mozza and La Brea BakeryM Café from the Chaya Restaurant Group
    •    25 Degrees from the Domaine Restaurant Group
    •    La Serenata de Garibaldi
    •    Bertha’s Soul Food
    •    Red Mango
    •    Park’s Korean BBQ
    •    Buttercake Bakery
    •    Groundwork Coffee
    •    Lamill Coffee
    •    Peet’s Coffee & Tea


Since 1965, most food service at the airport has been provided under a contract with HMS Host. In April, after a rigorous bidding and evaluation process, the Los Angeles World Airport (LAWA) management team ranked the SSP America proposal first and recommended that the Los Angeles Airport Commission approve a 10-year contract for food and beverage service in Terminals 4, 5, 7 and 8.  Because Airport Commission Alan Rothenberg had a potential conflict of interest related to his financial ties to a food company currently operating at the airport under a contract with HMS Host, (a competing bidder that ranked fourth), final approval of the contract must go before the Board of Referred Powers, a committee of the Los Angeles City Council.

Both the City Attorney and the City Administrative Officer have recommended that the Board of Referred Powers approve airport management’s contract recommendations. HMS Host is appealing and asking that the bids be rejected.  The Board of Referred Powers has scheduled a hearing on the matter for August 5 at City Hall.

Border Grill Taqueria speaks out for change

A jubilant Rob White, of Bertha’s Soul Food, probably said it best in his closing remarks at the 'Eat In' singing, “Let’s give 'em something to talk about.” We’ll see if LAX ventures forward courageously and improves if nothing else the food service choices available to hurried and ofttimes weary travelers.  For additional information on SSP America (SSP Canada/SSP Caribbean) click here.

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