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I read with interest that Airports Council International-North America is calling for submissions for the 2010 Richard A. Griesbach Excellence in Airport Concessions contest. I've been a past judge in the contest, and you can read my blog post on last year's winners here.I was chatting with my airline/airport geek friends over the new concession program at New York's LaGuardia Airport unveiled yesterday by Delta Air Lines. We were al marveling over the variety of food/beverage options and that airport concession management company OTG -- the brains behind the program at JetBlue's JFK Airport T5 program -- managed to muscle out the usual companies.The conversation then steered toward airport concepts we all liked, which got me thinking -- what food/beverage/retail concepts should be entered in the concessions contest, with applications due Aug. 16. So I decided to give a few of my favorite concessions a little push, hoping they'll submit an application before the deadline.First up is Vino Volo, currently in 10 airports, including my hometown airport Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall. As a wine lover, I'm wondering why no one came up with this concept before -- offer world-class wines by the glass or bottle, let people buy said bottles to go and offer little plates of food in a comfortable setting with tables and power outlets. I'm also a fan of the La Bodega winery at DFW Airport's Terminal D.All photos by Benet J. WilsonThen there's the La Carreta Cuban restaurant outside Terminal E at Miami International Airport. I went to college with a bunch of Cubans, and developed a passion for the food. The pork pressed sandwiches are to die for, and the Cuban coffee is divine. Kudos to MIA for giving passengers a great representation of local cuisine.Back at the ACI-NA 2008 annual conference, some really smart person at XpresSpa decided to open a mini facility -- in the middle of the convention exhibit floor. They offered manicures, massages and facials, and the place was always packed -- mostly with men! I try and visit this vendor whenever I pop up in one of their airports.There is nothing worse that getting sick while on the road. That's why I really like Harmony Pharmacy, currently at San Francisco, JFK and Newark airports. They have the usual over-the-counter stuff, but in case of emergency, you can have your prescriptions called in. According to their website, they're coming to DFW, Cleveland and BWI airports this year.My family comes from the Bay Area and Texas, both of which are pretty good outposts for barbecue. So whenever I have a layover at Houston Intercontinental, I get my fix at Harlon's BBQ. And I will go out of my way to go to Austin-Bergstrom for Salt Lick BBQ, whose smell just permeates (in a good way) throughout the airport.I am a bargain shopper who HATES to pay full price for anything. So I'm a BIG fan of the Bijoux Terner chain, which offers great women's clothing and accessories for $10. Yes. Everything in the store is $10. I've bought watches, purses, earrings and my beloved pashimas (12 at last count). The store is nicely laid out and very conducive for shopping.I just love my sushi. But you can't just eat sushi anywhere, which is why I'm a fan of Matsutake Sushi at Washington National Airport's national hall. The fish is fresh, and it's a lovely oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the main airport hall.On the road, you're always looking for that perfect gift for the child in your life. I won't include Orlando in this, because they have a distinct advantage, having Disney, Universal Studios and Sea World on the premises. So I'll go west to Salt lake City International Airport to the Creative Kidstuff store. I love the variety of toys and games at good price points, plus they actually encourage children to touch the merchandise.I could go on, but I think I've touched on the high points. And I hope you won't be offended if you didn't make this list. Having traveled to many airports worldwide, I know there are a lot of great concepts out there, so if you like what you do -- enter the contest!!
tw99, airport, concession, ACINA
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