WELCOMING PASSENGERS: Tulsa Airport Authority Board Chair Meredith Siegfried, Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor and Tulsa International Airport Director Jeff Mulder had plenty of reason to smile at the grand opening commemoration at Tulsa International Airport. They marked the completion of a four-year expansion effort of the center terminal area and overhaul of the airport’s food, beverage and retail establishments.
GTR Newspapers photo
The first phase of Tulsa International Airport’s long-term renovation was completed with much fanfare in Feb. 13 when a group of dignitaries came out to celebrate the event.
New concessions managers were named for both food and beverage and all retail operations. Previously they had been handled by one concessionaire and it was felt the resulting facilities did not reflect the unique flavor of the Tulsa community. Paradies Shops was selected to be the concession operator for all airport retail shops and Anton Airfood (now HMS Host) was named the concession operator.
Paradies Shops operates more stores in more airports than any other company in the airport concession business. Their Explore Tulsa store carries souvenir items from local museums, attractions and universities. Tulsa bookseller Novel Idea partnered with Paradies to provide news, books and snack items. Other airport shops include Cherry Street Travel Mart, Green Country Market Place, CNBC and a Java Dave’s location that carries pastries from Merritt’s Bakery.
The food options include the Varsity Grill and Sports Bar. HMS Host partnered with local favorite Camille’s Sidewalk Café to open its first Tulsa airport location in mid-2005.
HMS prides itself on balancing community flavor with its national partnerships. This is especially evident at the airport’s food court, which includes Starbuck’s Coffee, Quizno’s Subs along with locally founded Freckle’s Frozen Custard and Mazzio’s Pizza. Other restaurants in the terminal include Cherry Street Café and T.G.I. Friday’s.
The project has been in process since Aug. 2002 when ground was broken on the first major terminal expansion project in 30 years. It was the beginning of a $70 million program focusing on building improvements and security enhancements.
The initial phase dealt with the federal security mandate that required all luggage to be fully inspected by explosive detection systems before the end of 2002. Tulsa was one of only six airports to successfully meet the deadline for 100 percent bag screening. In 2005 the upper level of the expansion was used to consolidate passenger security screening and to develop new concessions space. Prior to that passenger screening was located at each concourse entrance and passengers would only have access to the concourse for the airline which they were flying. By centralizing this function all passengers now have direct access to the entire terminal post security and waiting time at security checkpoints has been slashed from an average of 30 to 10 minutes.
Phase Two will include baggage-handling improvements and a new sprinkler system. Eventually the ceilings will be raised and more glass added to give an improved view of the runways. The projected finishing date is still a couple of years off an airport spokesperson said.