Restaurant Development & Design

September-October 2017

restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.

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1 6 • r e s t a u r a n t d e v e l o p m e n t + d e s i g n • S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2 0 1 7 TREND Publican Tavern Location: Terminal 3, O'Hare International Airport, Chicago Concept: Elevated tavern Developed by: HMSHost and One Off Hospitality Group A longtime leader in creating and man- aging travel-centered dining programs, HMSHost long ago began shedding its image as old-school concessionaire and shifting the airport dining paradigm. It was among the first in the industry to showcase celebrity chefs, partner- ing with the likes of Wolfgang Puck, Todd English and Rick Bayless to bring elevated dining concepts to the airport. Today, the company continues to redefine itself and the airport experi- ence in part by mining the local restau- rant scene for hot concepts and notable chefs to add to the mix. Tyler Pitman, senior director, restaurant portfolio, says the company has been working to position itself as a leading global restaurant company. "We spend a lot of time looking at travel industry and dining trends outside of the airport environment. We want to bring those same trends inside — stay current with what really excites guests and represents the best of what the city has to offer. And, ultimately, we want to provide a more elevated experience for travelers," he says. To do that, HMSHost strives for a balance of proprietary, national-brand, and buzzy local, chef- driven concepts. One such brand is Publican Tavern, which opened last year in American Airlines' Terminal 3 at O'Hare International Airport. It was developed in partnership with One Off Hospital- ity, the internationally acclaimed group behind some of Chicago's most iconic foodie havens, including Blackbird, Avec and The Publican. "It's a very elevated experience that took The Publican on the street and translated it for the airport," Pit- man says of Publican Tavern. "The aesthetic is the same, and the materi- als, finishes and lighting are the same. Our in-house design team worked with One Off's team and Thomas Schlesser, who designed The Publican, to bring the project to life." As with other agreements with local brands, day-to-day operations are handled by HMSHost. However, Pitman stresses that the local group's ongo- ing involvement is key. "We're not just licensing; we look for true partners in the entire process from design through training, opening, ensuring brand stan- dards are upheld, etc.," he says. "We change the menu as they do; we have quarterly business reviews; we're in communication weekly, if not daily." Of inherent airport challenges, pre- paring a local brand to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner 365 days a year is a big one. Required speed of service is another. "Most guests in a domestic ter- minal have roughly 34 minutes of dwell time. International travelers might have an hour and half," Pitman says. "Opera- tions have to be able to handle that." From a design standpoint, the biggest challenge comes down to one word: luggage. "Almost every guest has a roller bag or multiple pieces of lug- gage in tow," notes Pitman. "So while we're bringing more elevated restau- rants to the terminals, we're also mov- ing toward constructing fewer walls and barriers to ensure that they can access and enjoy them comfortably." HMSHost worked with One Off Hospitality Group and its designer, Thomas Schlesser, to create Publican Tavern at O'Hare. It's an offshoot of The Publican, One Off's award-winning restaurant in Chicago's Fulton Market neigh- borhood. Photo courtesy of HMSHost

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