Taste of Cedar Rapids . . .

SSP in the News 25-March-2009

CEDAR RAPIDS - Travelers passing through The Eastern Iowa Airport will be getting a taste of Cedar Rapids beginning in May.

The Cedar Rapids Airport Commission on Monday approved a seven-year contract with SSP America Inc. of Lansdowne, Va., to operate the food and beverage concessions in the passenger terminal.

SSP America plans to feature many of the menu items from the Tic Toc, 600 17th St. NE in Cedar Rapids, in a food court on the main level of the airport terminal. In comments accompanying its proposal to the commission, SSP America says the Tic Toc was "carefully selected" from award-winning establishments in the community.

Tic Toc was awarded First Place in the 2008 KCRG-TV9 "A List" for Best Traditional American restaurants. SSP America said the Tic Toc, owned by Kacy Smith, "has been a favorite Cedar Rapids dining spot for over 45 years."

SSP America plans to feature the award-winning coffee of Brewed Awakenings, 1271 First Ave. SE, in two terminal locations the main level food court and the Cedar Landing "grab and go" food and beverage area on the upper level C concourse. Brewed Awakenings' full line of espresso and specialty coffees will be available in the main level food court.

Brewed Awakenings recently received The Gazette's Corridor Choice award for Best Coffee. The coffeehouse, located across the street from Coe College, is owned by Richard Marsceau.

Airport Director Dan Mann said SSP America's first partnership with a local food or beverage vendor created the Millstream Brew Haus pub that opened last summer on the C concourse.

"We offer some of Millstream's beverages on tap and that kind of started this concept for SSP America's concession proposal," Mann said. "I always think of the airport as being a gateway to the community. Forty percent of our inbound traffic are travelers who do not live in Eastern Iowa.

"I think it's a great concept that's going to be well received."

Construction is expected to begin late next month on the C concourse Cedar Landing "grab and go" food and beverage area. Mann expects the remodeling work to be completed by Memorial Day when the rest of the concourse renovations are due to be finished.

Remodeling of the main floor restaurant and the terminal gift shop, which will be renamed "Five Seasons Marketplace," likely will start sometime this summer and be completed by late fall.

"The SSP America contract is a seven-year deal with an annual revenue guarantee of $250,000 for the airport," Mann said. "SSP America is committing to spend just over $500,000 to upgrade the facility, to make it better for travelers. The company will have a vested interest in the success of the operation."

Mann said SSP America, which was the sole bidder for the contract, did not take it for granted that it would retain the airport business.

"It was a very well-thought-out proposal. They obviously wanted to stay here," he said. "Their local manager has done a wonderful job of improving the quality and the customer service."

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