Louisville is known for many things, from the Kentucky Derby, to where the majority of the world’s bourbon is made. Now it will also be known for an airport dining experience as global restaurateur HMSHost and its subtenant partner, Tinsley Family Concessions, was awarded an eight-year contract to expand restaurant services in Louisville International Airport. This new contract is valued at nearly $110 million and will coincide with the airport’s Terminal Enhancement Project. HMSHost and Tinsley will operate a combined 11 dining venues, welcoming travelers with a mix of new locally inspired restaurants and national favorites.
“HMSHost is extremely excited to be awarded this contract at Louisville International Airport and we look forward to opening this dynamic group of restaurants, including two new HMSHost created restaurants that celebrate Kentucky’s bourbon making heritage, along with well-loved local and national brands,” says Michael Price, HMSHost vice president of business development. “The airport has been very welcoming to us and we are eager to open our doors to serve Louisville travelers with the highest level of food and hospitality.”
The airport’s pre-security area will feature Starbucks, KFC, Comfy Cow, and Book & Bourbon Southern Kitchen. The Rotunda will feature Starbucks Evenings and Bourbon Academy Tasting Room. Concourse A will feature The Local Rustic Market and Chili’s. Concourse B will feature Smashburger, Farmers Market, and Coals Artisan Pizza. Tinsley Family Concessions will operate Chili’s, Comfy Cow, KFC, and Bourbon Academy Tasting Room as a subtenant.
Book & Bourbon Southern Kitchen was created by HMSHost to bring an upscale dining venue to the airport and will feature a library themed atmosphere with branded oak barrels, industrial finishes, and use of reclaimed wood. More than 100 unique bourbons and a classic craft cocktail list will be available. The food menu takes a twist on southern comfort food, using local farm to table sourcing and featuring items like fried green tomato benedict and short rib hush puppies. A tasting area where guests can sample and learn from highly trained staff about different bourbons will be open to travelers. Guests will also enjoy take-away “library” cards that feature recipes of their favorite cocktail.
HMSHost also developed the Bourbon Academy Tasting Room, which will carry an industrial vibe, offering an elevated bar experience where guests can enjoy a rare bourbons such as Pappy Van Winkle and Jefferson’s Presidential Select. For an in-depth educational experience, guests can order tasting flights that are guided by iPad menus that describe the history of each distiller and unique tasting notes specific to each pour. Guests can also order items like dirty kettle chips and crispy smoked bourbon barbecue wings at the bar, at communal tables, or while relaxing in the lounge.
Three restaurants with local roots will bring the Louisville region to life in the airport. KFC was founded in Kentucky more than 70 years ago and travelers in the iconic company’s hometown airport will be able to enjoy the legendary flavors that are the product of Colonel Sanders’ famous original blend of herbs and spices from this refurbished location. Coals Artisan Pizza is the dream of Louisville’s Mark and Madeline Peters. With a background in Italian foods manufacturing, in 2010 they opened Coals in St. Matthews to serve mouthwatering pizzas to Louisvillians. Coals starts with a perfect crust, not too soft, not too chewy, bymusing a cold rising dough process. Comfy Cow was founded on a passion for ice cream by Roy and Tim Koons-McGee with the goal of bringing the best ice cream on the planet to Louisville. Comfy Cow will let travelers unwind with exquisite scoops in a sugar cone, cup, or waffle bowl with nuts, sparkles and extra toppings.
Popular HMSHost brands will come to Louisville International Airport in the form of two convenient kiosk locations. The Local Rustic Market feels like your neighborhood city market and a farmers market rolled into one. It conveniently offers “fresh from the market” seasonal preparations of regionally inspired dishes made from locally sourced products. Farmers Market is another marketplace style concept by HMSHost where the core focus is on easily accessible healthy, freshly prepared food options for travelers on the go.
With the addition of Smashburger and the refurbishment of Chili's, the airport will feature two beloved restaurants that resonate with out of town travelers looking for a familiar brand that is perhaps their favorite go-to dining out spot. Smashburger continues to grow in popularity and offers something for everyone, with localized burger creations for Louisville including the Bluegrass Smashburger and Bluegrass Smashchicken with Wild Turkey BBQ Sauce along with a medley of salad options. Chili’s is all about keeping things fresh, making the atmosphere energetic and the chips, salsa, and guacamole are still housemade. Families and business travelers will find the Chili’s menu, with classics and new items, perfect before heading out on a trip.
Louisville is also gaining more access to Starbucks, something that no airport should be without. Along with an upgraded pre-security Starbucks that will replace the existing one, the opening of the exclusive Starbucks
Evenings in The Rotunda will mark the fourth airport location in the country for this twist on the favorite brand. Starbucks Evenings creates a new occasion for travelers to relax and connect, serving craft beer, hand-selected wines, and a health-conscious menu.