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Council Rejects Airport Concessions Deal

Pensacola International Airport

The Pensacola City Council Thursday evening deadlocked in voting on a food and drink concessions deal for Pensacola International Airport. The 4-4 outcome means the proposal fails.

Council members PC Wu, Megan Pratt, Charles Bare and Sherri Myers voted against the connection plan. Those voting in favor were Jewell Cannada-Wynn, Larry B. Johnson, Andy Terhaar and Gerald Wingate. Councilman Brian Spencer abstained.

At issue was a ten-year contract, which a five-member selection committee recommended be awarded to Missouri-based OHM -- which represents Chick-fil-A, Corona Beach House, Surf City Squeeze and Einstein Brothers Bagels.

The other finalist was New York-based Creative Food Group – which represents local restaurants – The Fish House, Bagelhead’s and Varona’s.

Much of the discussion was over Chick-fil-A – which by company policy is closed on Sundays. Opponents to the OHM selection contended that the request for proposal – or RFP -- specified that all restaurants be open seven days a week.

Local residents addressing the Council were unanimous in their opposition to the contract.

Other points brought up included the RFP specifying a local connection, and the fact that Creative Food Group did not file an official protest when OHM was selected.

Councilwoman Sherri Myers pointed to a provision that said the businesses must maximize gross revenues. Since Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays, she contends there would be no business there for about 53 days each year – 530 days over the life of the contract.

Also backing the notion of local vendors at the airport was Councilwoman Megan Pratt, who said what’s at the airport should reflect Pensacola.

But Council President Jewell Cannada-Wynn – in voicing support for awarding the contract to OHM – said rejecting it would contradict efforts to lure business and industry to Pensacola.

With Thursday night’s vote, the Council is now expected to turn its attention to the proposal offered by Creative Foods. The question remains: will the four months of political and procedural jockeying for position with the OHM proposal repeat itself?