SBJ/December 10-16, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

PGA Tour tees up airport grills

The PGA Tour will launch its first branded restaurant in the coming months, once an airport site is selected.

The PGA Tour Grill restaurants will offer a menu that features healthy eating options.
The tour has struck a licensing agreement with Bethesda, Md.-based HMSHost to create the PGA Tour Grill, a branded chain of sit-down restaurants that will be located primarily in airports near tournament sites.

With a theme of “Eat Smarter, Play Harder,” the PGA Tour Grill will feature a menu with healthy eating options such as wasabi salmon and shrimp, a variety of chicken dishes, and crab and artichoke crostini.

Tim Hawes, the tour’s senior vice president of retail licensing, said this is the tour’s first venture into airport food and beverage.

The five-year agreement calls for HMSHost to pay the tour a percentage on all sales in the restaurant.

“This has been on our to-do list and we’re ecstatic that we’re able to get into food and beverage in a way that is so core to our business direction,” Hawes said. “The tour is very focused on the health and wellness platform, and that’s something our athletes are advocating as well. … It was great, once we began meeting with HMSHost, that we were of such like mind with the food concept.”

HMSHost has restaurants in airports all over the world — including the top 20 busiest airports in North America — and some of them are branded with sports themes, such as the Chicago Blackhawks in O’Hare or the Seattle Seahawks in Sea-Tac.

The company is talking to airports to determine the location for the first PGA Tour Grill. Bill Casey, HMSHost’s vice president of the company’s restaurant portfolio, said putting the tour’s grills in cities where there are tour events will help promote the tournaments.

“We like that the demographic that travels is very similar to the affluent demographic that plays golf and follows the tour,” Casey said. “Airports have done the chain restaurants and they’re looking for different ideas. We think this will be very well received by the airports.”

Casey said it’s too early to tell how many PGA Tour Grills will be established over the next five years, but he estimated close to 20. They will range from 1,500 square feet to roughly 2,400 square feet in size, he said.

The current deal allows for the creation of restaurants in domestic airports only, but there is the potential to expand the contract to include international airports as well.

“To be able to get into the food and beverage space in a highly visible way is something we’re enthusiastic about,” Hawes said. “We’re in the licensing business to grow our brand and brand affinity, and the more we can do that in an enormously high-traffic area like an airport, the better. This represents the kind of licensing programs we’re looking for.”

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