Fresno Yosemite International Airport image via City of Fresno.
Written by Frank Lopez
A popular Fresno restaurant is taking to the skies with plans to open inside Fresno Yosemite Airport (FAT) next year.
The Fresno City Council last week approved a new concessionaire for FAT that will operate the eating options inside the airport — which will include the growing Mad Duck Craft Brewing Co.
Airport Media and Public Relations Officer Vikkie Calderon said it will take approximately 12 months to bring Mad Duck and the other new eateries online.
Virginia-based SSP America’s proposal totaled about $5.78 million for the 15-year agreement — about $40 a square foot for concession space and $20 a square foot for support and storage space per year, Calderon said.
SSP’s proposal consists of a Mad Duck restaurant, a “Baby Duck” grab-n-go shop featuring already-prepared Mad Duck fare, a Peet’s Coffee and an Ike’s Sandwiches.
In early 2022, the city’s Airports Department began soliciting proposals to manage and operate “Food & Beverage” and “News & Convenience Concessions” at the airport.
The bid opening period started in January of this year, with the final airport committee evaluation taking place in late February.
SSP has experience as a concessionaire at airports across the county including Oakland, Sacramento, San Jose and Los Angeles.
A city council staff report states that SSP will create jobs not only on the concessionaire side, but on the trades side as well for the work needed in the terminal to complete the proposed locations.
“SSP presented a strong employee retention program to engage and keep as many of the current employees in place during a transfer of concessionaires and further giving them the first opportunity to join the SSP team at FAT,” the staff report reads.
As part of their community outreach program, SSP is engaged in the Department of Transportation’s program Airport Concessions Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (ACDBE), which is designed to level the playing for small businesses wishing to participate in contracting opportunities at airports.
TNT Concessions LLC, a woman-owned-business owned and operated by Nikki Shaw and Terri Frierson, will handle the Baby Duck, Peet’s Coffee and Ike’s Sandwiches locations.
Hudson Retail, LLC, doing business as HG Fresno Concessionaires JV, will continue to operate FAT’s newsstands and gift shops.
Councilmember Miguel Arias had questions about SSP after he said an online search of the company mentioned litigation over alleged unpaid overtime wages.
Arias asked Director of Aviation Henry Thompson if the contract could be changed to prevent such labor pay issues from occurring here.
Thompson told Arias that SSP has a good reputation and is moving into FAT to improve the situation. Thompson said the pay issues are recent and not consistent with anything else SSP has done.
“It is simply allegations and hasn’t gone through the courts,” Thompson said last week.
Thompson said provisions could be added to make sure the concessionaire does the right thing. He said SSP will offer wages higher than the current concessionaire, as well as bonuses and hiring incentives.
Arias said he will want a memo from FAT in six months for an update on the execution of its labor practices.