Port of Pasco commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to accept a proposal from Tailwind -- a Wilmington, N.C., company -- to operate the Tri-Cities Airport concessions.
The current contract expires in February 2017. However, port commissioners wanted to decide on a new concessionaire now so the company would be able to work on the design of the concession space with Mead & Hunt architects.
Moving the restaurant and other concessions from their present location in the airport terminal to another expanded section is part of the planned remodel due to begin this summer. The new location will be in the secured area where passengers wait for incoming flights. There would also be a snack bar in front of the security checkpoint.
Cindy Goulet has operated Florentyna's Italian restaurant at the airport for 17 years. She submitted a proposal to continue running the concessions at the airport, but the renovation cost, estimated at $2.2 million, is more than she can afford, said Ron Foraker, airport director.
Randy Hayden, the port's executive director, will meet with Goulet and Tailwind executives to plan the transition.
"It's a sensitive issue; we'll need to discuss what's best for all," Hayden said.
Tailwind operates concessions at 10 airports in Texas and on the East Coast that are similar in size to the Pasco airport.
"We're looking to expand west, and Pasco would give us our foot in the door in Southeast Washington. Pasco is just the right size for us; we could expand with you," said Jeff Swatter, chief operating officer for Tailwind.
Goulet took over concessions at the Pasco airport in April 1997 and opened Florentyna's that same year. She opened 3 Eyed Fish, a bar in the secured boarding area, in 2011. She also operates the River Snack Bar and gift shop.
"We've had great relations with Cindy and are sorry to choose a company from outside the Tri-Cities, but need to decide what's best for our customers," said Commissioner Jean Ryckman.
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