Friday, January 24, 2014

City Council rejects mayor's food concession plan for Pensacola International Airpor

The Pensacola City Council tonight rejected awarding a concessions contract for Pensacola International Airport to Missouri-based OHM Foods.

The contract — delayed for months by procedural and political wrangling — finally appeared on the council agenda tonight.

Collier Merrill along with fellow restaurateurs Robert De Varona and Rob Mackey — joined forces last year with Creative Food Group of New York to offer well-known Pensacola brands, including The Fish House, as dining options at the airport.

Their proposal was ranked second by a five-member selection committee — narrowly outscored by Missouri-based OHM Foods. Mayor Ashton Hayward’s administration supported the OHM Foods contract.

OHM has offered to invest $1.8 million into establishing nationally branded franchises in the airport: Chick-fil-A, Corona Beach House, Surf City Squeeze and two Einstein Bros. Bagels shops.

The company also has guaranteed the city a minimum annual fee of $397,460 — though it would pay $460,000 if its projected annual sales goals were met.

Creative has proposed paying Merrill for the rights to open and operate a Fish House restaurant.

After debate, the council voted 4-4 with Councilmember Brian Spencer abstaining. The tie vote dashed Hayward’s plan to bring OHM to the airport.

'The council next debated whether to extend the current airport concession contract with de Varona for a year. That motion failed.

The current airport concession contract expires in March.


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