- Pret A Manger is opening store locations in airports throughout the U.S. starting in the Las Vegas McCarran International Airport in partnership with global restaurateur HMSHost, reports QSR Magazine.
- Other airport locations on the list include Charlotte Douglas International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport.
- Currently, the U.K.-based chain has locations on the East Coast and Chicago as well as Europe, Asia and the Middle East. It focuses on offering fresh food like sandwiches, salads, wraps and organic coffee.
As travelers become increasingly fixated on healthy and fresh eating, Pret could differentiate from typically more indulgent airport fare and drive sales and name recognition for the chain.
Airport-based locations come with unique challenges, however. The service must often be lightning fast and super smooth to keep hurried guests happy, while the competition from other restaurants is stiff. Airport dwellers can wander through the terminal and have their pick of more 20 other options in some instances.
Maintaining the desired dining experience at an airport post can also be a difficult considering that the restaurant must adhere to the service and dining rules of the airport location. There could even be design and construction limitations in the airport’s contract that don’t jive well with a restaurant brand’s aesthetic.
A few other restaurants are adding airports to their lists, including chocolatier Godiva as mall traffic continues to decline. The sweets purveyor is opening up 2,000 cafes in the next six years, including some standalone storefronts as well as airport locations. Shake Shack has also been expanding into airports including store locations in Dallas, Denver and Phoenix on top of food courts and stadiums. Wetzel’s Pretzels' new CEO announced plans to add up to 30 new stores this year in airports, stadiums and some mall locations.
Third-party delivery platforms are seeing opportunity in air travel, as well. Uber Eats recently partnered with Canada’s Toronto Pearson airport and HMSHost to provide food delivery at Terminal 3 of its International and Domestic Departures section. The pilot program allows passengers to access the Uber Eats app and order a variety of QSR and fast casual options.
Pret's expansion comes on the heels of a series of labor disputes that battered its reputation. Last year, it paid $875,000 to employees at 33 of its NYC locations in its second wage suit in four years. Pret paid 4,000 New York employees nearly $1 million in 2014 for back-wages and overtime pay. Bolstering its presence in airports could help it lure new diners to the brand, though it's unclear if that will be enough to brighten its brand halo in the eyes of its customers.