Joint venture to run new airport restaurants
Bermudian hospitality businesspeople Dennie O’Connor and Jennifer Turini Ysseldyke are on a roll.
Yesterday, the joint venture in which they are partners was awarded the food and beverage concession in the new airport passenger terminal that is expected to open next year.
Bermuda Travel Concessions is a joint venture with airport food and beverage giants SSP America, which said its nearly 37,000 employees serve approximately 1.5 million passengers daily in 33 countries.
The organisation will operate three restaurants and a market-style convenience store in the airport terminal.
The news comes less than two months after Mr O’Connor was announced as operations director and Ms Turini Ysseldyke as operations and programme manager of the group set to overhaul Snorkel Park to create a “beachfront fun zone”.
Mr O’Connor, who owns Cosmopolitan Club Lounge and is co-owner of Beach Boys Ltd, operators of the concession at Tobacco Bay, described the airport opportunity as “exciting, motivating and surreal”.
He added: “We are grateful for Skyport’s ability to see that Bermudian-driven food and beverage culture and hospitality, coupled with the experience and expertise of an international company like SSP, will result in the highest standards and outcomes for a successful concession.
“We are also grateful for SSP’s commitment to collaborate and invest in Bermuda and its people. This collaborative effort gives us a chance to enhance our offerings, bolster the tourism industry, and provide excellent employment opportunities for Bermudians.”
Ms Turini Ysseldyke and Mr O’Connor said that anyone who had expressed interest in the food and beverage bid was invited by Skyport to a meeting at which it provided details of the RFP process and its requirements.
Addressing the 20 people present, Skyport encouraged collaboration due to the size of the project, Ms Turini Ysseldyke and Mr O’Connor said, adding that attendees were asked if they were comfortable with their e-mail addresses being shared with other attendees in order to foster such collaboration.
Ms Turini Ysseldyke said: “Dennie and I reached out to multiple groups/individuals on that e-mail who were open to collaboration because we knew that that was our best shot at a successful bid, not only from a financial standpoint, but an experiential one as well.
“From there, our dialogue with SSP began and blossomed into a partnership. SSP responded with interest. From there, we continued to have open discussions and ‘feel each other out’ to see if it would be a good fit for both parties.
“We discovered we had similar visions, and felt this was the right partnership to pursue.”
Ms Turini Ysseldyke and Mr O’Connor said they collaborated with SSP in the development of the restaurant concepts.
“SSP was very open and receptive of all our suggestions, ideas, and changes for all the restaurant concepts and vice versa,” Ms Turini Ysseldyke said. “In order to achieve the best outcome, we knew that everyone’s strengths had to be highlighted.
“Dennie and I bring the knowledge of what works best specifically to Bermuda. We understand our people, culture, tastes, etc. SSP has the historical data and 50-plus years focusing solely on travel concessions, so they know what works in high-traffic, quickly paced environments.”
Going forward, Ms Turini Ysseldyke and Mr O’Connor said of the process with SSP: “It is an ongoing process of communication and refinement. We want to deliver the best product for both tourists and locals alike.
“Essentially our restaurants will be our visitors’ first or last experience of Bermuda, so we want their experience to reflect a strong sense of Bermudian culture, pride, and hospitality.
“For our locals, we want them to enjoy a delicious meal and dining experience that they are proud of, and that’s reflective of our beautiful island home.
“Our next steps include fostering relationships with other companies and distributors on island to allow for more collaboration and economic multipliers, and continued communication with Skyport and the Government of Bermuda to ensure everyone is satisfied.”
It is expected that more than 40 jobs will be created by the new joint venture.
The new restaurants are The Whistling Rum Bar & Grill, Rock & Barrel Gastro Bar and The Heron & the Sea Public House. Each location will have full dining and takeaway options, Skyport said.
The Whistling Rum Bar & Grill, located before the check-in area, will feature a full-service outdoor patio offering al fresco dining.
A landside bar and grill will serve options including jerk roasted chicken, fish tacos, fish chowder and warm rum cake, as well as beer, international wines and sparkling wines, and signature cocktails.
Rock & Barrel Gastro Bar, with views over the runway and Ferry Reach, will be located in the US departures lounge.
Skyport said it will feature design elements that draw inspiration from the natural woods, stones and turquoise waters of the island while blending in what it described as “an eclectic industrial vibe”.
The full-service gastro bar will feature signature Bermudian cocktails, local and international brews and freshly prepared island dishes, and an open-air full-service patio.
The Heron & the Sea will be the main dining option in the international departures area, Skyport said, and will offer a range of beverages in a pub-influenced setting.
Bermudian-inspired dishes with a focus on seafood will include fish chowder, scallops, blackened wahoo and shrimp kebabs with guava BBQ sauce.
Skyport said the market-style convenience store will be located in the arrivals public meet-and-greet area for those coming in from late flights, offering quick bites and coffee to go.
Aaron Adderley, president of Skyport, said: “It was important for us to introduce an innovative dining concept for the new passenger terminal building. We were pleased to see two young Bermudians team up with the world’s largest food and beverage operator to form Bermuda Travel Concessions.
“They both have a proven track record in delivering successful restaurant and entertainment experiences, and this partnership is an ideal outcome. We look forward to welcoming next year, travellers and members of the community to enjoy the elevated offerings.”
Kyle Phillips, senior director of business development, SSP America, said: “The Bermuda LF Wade International Airport team sought an elevated experience for its passengers, and SSP America answered the call.
“Our strategy was to deliver the ‘taste of place’ for which we’re known, as well as unsurpassed operational know how. We’re looking forward to being part of the BDA Airport community.”
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