CLEARWATER — Airports in the Tampa Bay area might soon be known as much for their culinary prowess as their airline performance.
St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport on Tuesday announced a multi-million dollar food, beverage and retail renovation for the airport that will include some familiar and popular local flavors.
"I can't tell you how excited I am to finally have some decent food that will be at that airport — and some choices," County Commission Chairwoman Karen Williams Seel said before the commission approved a contract for the renovations with SSP-Hudson PIE Concessions, LLC.
Hudson CEO Roger Fordyce said in a news release that the contract reflects a focus on maximizing passenger traffic exposure "while also diversifying the concepts and products we offer to better meet the needs of travelers."
Included in the plan will be Dunkin Donuts available pre-security and at gates 2 through 6, and District Pub, a pre-security restaurant on the second floor.
The real fun, however, will come once you get through those metal detectors and body scans.
Popular St. Pete sandwich saviors and makers of all things good and tasty, Mazzaro's Italian Market, will be opening a spot available post-security for gates 7 through 11.
"The Mazzaro's family is very cautious and conservative about expanding, so this is a huge get," Commissioner Charlie Justice said.
And another growing St. Pete staple, 3 Daughters Brewing, will be bringing its locally brewed craft beer to gates 2 through 6.
"We had a lot of input saying we'd like to have craft beers out at the airport, and so we will," airport deputy director of finance and administration Yvette Aehle said.
The 10-year agreement includes an almost $4.2 million initial investment by Hudson as well as a minimum annual guarantee to the airport of about $1.2 million for the first year with 3 percent increase from the prior year for years two through 10.
"Adding the local flavors of Mazzaro's and 3 Daughters Brewing is exciting for our passengers and will certainly create fans of our visiting passengers," airport director Tom Jewsbury said in the news release. "We look forward to a long and successful partnership."
While commissioners generally welcomed the new additions, Commissioner Ken Welch voted against the contract. He wanted to see a local coffee vendor like Kahwa instead of a national brand like Dunkin' Donuts.
"I like all the other aspects of this," Welch said before the vote. "But local matters, and we made that statement early going into this. And Dunkin' is like Starbucks. It doesn't present that local flavor."
Hudson executives told the commission they decided on a mix of both local and national brands in large part to generate enough revenue to cover the company's $4 million investment in on-site improvements. They said it might be possible to bring in a local coffee shop in the future.
Hudson will also bring Market 361 to the airport, a retail location named for the average annual number of days of sunshine in Pinellas County.
With the announcement of the renovations, Pinellas County's airport joins Tampa International Airport with investments in improving the airport experience.
Last year, Tampa's airport debuted a number of new restaurants in its terminals including a number of local options. And late last month, the airport announced it'd be allowing non-fliers limited access to the airside for the first time in nearly two decades so non-travelers can enjoy the airport's amenities.
Hudson, which operates concessions at airports across the country, is set to begin operating at St. Pete-Clearwater on June 1. Construction of the new shops and restaurants is expected to take about seven months.
Times staff writer Richard Danielson contributed to this report. Contact Daniel Figueroa IV at email@example.com. Follow @danuscripts.