Dingy walls, faded carpets, soulless fast food halls, and nary a power outlet in sight: That’s the dismal experience that awaits you today in many U.S. airports.
But maybe you’ve been to that delicious little tapas joint, Piquillo, at JetBlue’s JFK terminal. Perhaps on your last stop in Toronto, you tasted a local brew at Beerhive Draft & Craft or ordered a gin-spiked Delhi Cucumber Cooler from Marathi restaurant with a swipe on an iPad while comfortably seated at your gate, smartphone charging in an easy-to-find USB port.
If you have, you’ve felt the touch of OTG, the company that’s transforming the U.S. airport dining scene, with its farm-terminal philosophy.
“People spend more time in airports than ever,” says Rick Blatstein, OTG’s founder. “The space after security and before you board the plane is an opportunity to deliver a world-class experience.”
OTG has completely redesigned nine terminals since 2008 in cities including New York, Washington D.C., Houston, Minneapolis, and Toronto. The $120 million overhaul of Newark’s United terminal includes restaurants from former Top Chef contestant and local superstar Dale Talde and from vegetarian chef Amanda Cohen of Manhattan’s Dirt Candy, whose eatery will open at the end of this year. United’s new Houston terminal and American Airlines’ Philadelphia terminal are next.
“Our goal is to create a memorable experience through look, feel, touch, and taste that is unique to the city where the airport is,” Blatstein says. Passengers seem to like it, as revenue has gone up in each OTG-designed terminal, even though the restaurants avoid the typical markups you’ll find in many airport food halls.
“High prices equal unhappy customers who don’t want to spend money,” says Blatstein. “We’re just applying common sense.”