Revenue from food and beverage concessions at Pensacola International Airport is up significantly, according to the latest figures from the City of Pensacola.
Last March, Pensacola mayor Ashton Hayward acted unilaterally to award a ten-year concessions contract to OHM Concession Group, side-stepping the city council and putting an end to months of controversy. At the time, Hayward said that the contract with OHM would mean more than $1 million in additional revenue.
Now, after the company’s first full fiscal year of operations in Pensacola, year-end figures show OHM is meeting or exceeding expectations.
For fiscal year 2015, which ended on September 30, the airport took in $454,815 in revenue from OHM, outpacing projections by more than $150,000. Over the year, OHM recorded total sales of $3,333,223.47 — a 38% increase over fiscal year 2013, the last full year that previous concessionaire Varona Enterprises operated the concessions and posted sales of $2,412,591.35. OHM took over for Varona midway through fiscal year 2014.
OHM operates food and beverage concessions at nine airports throughout the country. At Pensacola International Airport, the company operates two Einstein’s Bagels locations, a Freshëns, Chick-Fil-A, Pensacola Beach House full-service restaurant, and two bars.
Hayward’s award of the contract to Missouri-based OHM came after months of uncertainty over the future management of the airport’s food and beverage concessions. A five-member selection committee recommended awarding the contract to OHM, but political pressure from New York-based Creative Food Group and local partners including Robert de Varona, Collier Merrill, and Rob Mackey caused the contract to stall with the Pensacola City Council.
After several meetings, the council rejected the selection committee’s recommendation in January 2014 on a 4-4 vote, with Councilman Brian Spencer abstaining. In March, the council voted narrowly to extend the existing contract with Varona Enterprises, a move that both the city attorney and outside legal counsel said the council didn’t have the authority to make and which Hayward quickly vetoed. Days later, Hayward announced he would sign an agreement with OHM, doing so with four council members present, signaling that the remaining council members wouldn’t have enough votes to override his veto.
“I am taking this action today to end the political gridlock over this issue, and to secure the best deal for our airport and the traveling public,” Hayward said at the time. “It is time for us to move forward and continue to position our airport to succeed.”