Travelers accustomed to preflight noshing at Anthony’s Restaurant at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport will need to find a new place to cool their jets.
Officials with HMHost Seattle, which manages the Anthony’s location, recently informed employees that the 14-year-old establishment would serve its last meal March 31. “It’s like closing a landmark,” said one upset airport employee, who asked not to be identified.
Anthony’s is one of several dozen restaurants and shops that failed to win new leases from the Port of Seattle, which is amid a yearslong multimillion-dollar renovation of the airport. Port spokesperson Perry Cooper said the current round of closures would likely continue for several months and could affect at least 202 workers.
The closures are part of a longstanding initiative to refresh the mix of restaurants and shops in the airport — with the Port putting a premium on businesses that are small or offer new concepts and local themes. The effort began in 2005, when the Port shifted from a single food-service provider to multiple providers.
Concessionaires such as HMHost partnered with outside establishments to bid on 10-year leases for coveted slots in the terminal, which saw more than 49.8 million visitors last year, the eighth-busiest airport in the country, Cooper said.
When the leases expired, the Port required concessionaires to submit new bids in what turned out to be an extremely competitive process. In the latest round of bids, Cooper said, the Port received 58 proposals for just 21 slots — and even highly popular leaseholders lost out.
Ivar’s didn’t make the cut, despite reporting $4.6 million in sales in 2016. And Anthony’s has been among the highest-grossing sit-down restaurants in any U.S. airport since it opened at Sea-Tac, according to Cooper. (The 22 locations owned and operated by Kirkland-based Anthony’s Restaurants are unaffected by the Sea-Tac closure.)
Other losers include Wolfgang Puck Express, Vintage Washington Wine Bar, Seattle Taproom, Affordable Luxuries, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Seattle Seahawks 12 Club, Burger King, one Starbucks location, Great American Bagel Bakery, Vino Volo, Sbarro, Hudson Booksellers and Sports Page Pub, Cooper said.
Despite the wave of closures, which will include perhaps two dozen more by the end of the year, the airport will see a net gain of 50 new businesses by 2025. Among the newcomers are Sunset Fried Chicken, Evergreens and Skillet.
Because the Port requires incoming businesses to hire from the existing labor pool — and because current employees are highly prized for their experience and security clearances — Cooper said many laid-off employees should find work with incoming businesses.
Still, the news was not well-received by workers. Airport food service jobs are highly prized for their high tips and Sea-Tac’s mandated $15 minimum wage. Those are “all living-wage jobs,” said the airport employee. “For some of them, there is no way they can reproduce that wage elsewhere.”