It was only last summer that we got very excited for chef-driven restaurants to hit LAX from SSP America. However, it sounds like longtime operator HMS Host has successfully squashed that possibility, as the Long Beach Press Telegram reports today that SSP was not awarded a single contract, having been bouted from the proceedings following a conflict-of-interest charge. Instead, HMS, Camacho Ventures (of the same Camacho's Cantina found at Universal Studios, formerly attached to bids from HMS), and Delaware North. Pretty lame. Now who's going to be featured at the airport?
So far, it appears that new contracts have been recommended for Host to bring projects from Campanile, 8 oz. Burger Bar, Starbucks (instead of SSP's LA Mill and Groundworks!), and La Provence Patisserie & Cafe to LAX, while room has also been made for a new Camacho's (instead of Border Grill, Serenate de Garibaldi, and Homeboy Industries from SSP).
The two biggest/funniest developments, as LAX tries to bring a modicum of actual L.A. restaurant culture to the airport, is something called LA Gourmet Street Truck, a pop-up concept that finds rising star chefs taking over for three to four months with their own menus. Would you go all the way to the airport, find parking, and get your soft parts squeezed by TSA just to try it? Well, if Ludo was there, we already know the answer.
And speaking of Ludo, Delaware North will bring the chef to the airport, or at least a Ludo-approved eatery. According to the article, the company has been given recommendations to bring LAX restaurants from The Original Farmer's Market, with projects from Jimmy Shaw and neighbors. We're guessing The LudoBites presence might be his fried chicken outlet, while LeBalch's recently announced casual concept, Nextdoor, will see an opening in the airport as well.
Consideration for the contracts will go before the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners in mid-May, followed by a final approval process with L.A. City Council. Yes, we're somewhat disappointed that we're not seeing Nancy Silverton's Spuntino concept or Park's BBQ secure a space in LAX, but at least stalwarts like Campanile and LeBalch made the cut.
What do you think of the final options? Do they adequately represent the city? Will they improve eating at LAX? Please let us know your thoughts in our comments.