MAC Sustainability Newsletter December 2016

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header image: social, environmental, economic

MSP's concessions embrace sustainability

In ways big and small, concessionaires at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) are working to embrace sustainability in their day-to-day operations.

While the concept of sustainability includes an important environmental component, the Metropolitan Airports Commission’s (MAC) definition also recognizes the social and economic impacts of decision-making, and the long-term impact of those decisions.

The MAC’s vision for sustainability includes investing in airport innovation, empowering our team and collaborating with our communities.

At the commercial level at MSP, those efforts include local sourcing of raw materials for use in restaurant kitchens, local chef talent to develop the menus, and a vigorous organics composting program, just to name a few.

Below are examples of just some of the sustainable practices in use by concessions at MSP.

MSP's organics composting program downsizes waste

As the airport continues to see passenger numbers rise, so do efforts to keep organic materials generated by airport businesses out of the regular waste stream.

The restaurants and bakeries at MSP International are active participants in the airport’s organics composting program, which collects food waste and paper, and sends it to a composting facility.


More than 40 MSP businesses are collecting organics for composting, and that number will increase as new concessions open in coming months.

The program diverted 434 tons of organic material from solid waste in 2015 at Terminal 1-Lindbergh alone. That amounted to 2,300 pounds per day.

Pictured: MSP's organics are composted in Rosemount, Minn.

The first phase of the organics program at MSP started in 2010, and has grown over time, said Tom Hunter, the operations manager for ABM, the company that collects the organics.

The first participants were Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery, French Meadow Bakery and Café, and Ike’s, located near each other on the north end of the main mall in Terminal 1.


After the restaurants fill up compostable bags with material each day, the bags are loaded into carts and transported to an on-site compactor. The carts used for transportation are washed and re-used.

The loads of organic material go to a commercial composting site in Rosemount, Minn., where food and yard waste are mixed together and then left to decompose for many months. Eventually, the finished compost is utilized in a variety of landscaping applications in and around the Twin Cities.

Beyond aligning with the MAC’s role as an environmental steward, the organics program also helps reduce landfill demand, and keeps food and other waste out of Hennepin County’s garbage burner operations, said Mark Wacek, the MAC’s environmental compliance administrator.

Brewer involvement not just froth at Stone Arch -- though the froth is pretty good

Regular travelers who pass through MSP may already have heard about Stone Arch, the new restaurant and bar that opened in early November at a prominent spot on Terminal 1’s Airport Mall featuring a partnership with a wide variety of Minnesota craft breweries.

What they might not know is that the craft brewers’ involvement goes much farther than making sure their kegs of suds get delivered to the airport.

As part of Stone Arch’s mission, the operation has the craft brewers staff the bar’s “craft lab” on a regular schedule each week.

The craft lab and bar at Stone Arch in Terminal 1-Lindbergh.

The craft lab occupies the horseshoe portion of Stone Arch’s ample bar space where the brewers chat with people and offer free samples. The sampling is offered in the dining room as well.


Every week, five Minnesota breweries are asked to staff the craft lab for four hours each – providing 20 hours a week of knowledgeable nuance on beer and brewing to Stone Arch customers.

“They talk to people who are drinking beer, not families,” said Michelle Ranum, chief marketing and brands officer with Aero Service Group, which operates Stone Arch. “At the airport, it’s a lot of single people, solos who are sitting alone.”

Stone Arch patrons are encouraged to visit the restaurant’s social media sites, including its Twitter handle -- @StoneArchMSP – or Facebook page to look at the calendar and view the schedule for brewers appearing at the airport.

How big is the potential selection of beers at Stone Arch?
Ranum says there are 68 production breweries that are part of the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild, and those 68 are producing from four to 20 different beers each.

Stone Arch has 20 main lines to feed taps, and any brewer that signs up to staff the craft lab is guaranteed a tap line. Other brews are offered in bottles.


Ranum said the reception to the brewers in the craft lab has been excellent.

“Passengers say this is what happens at my neighborhood bar in Topeka, or wherever,” she said. “Some people are into brewing, and they’ll talk at length” to the craft brewers about the beer they’re highlighting during that session at the craft lab, she added.

Pictured: Tom Whisenand, co-founder of Indeed Brewing.

“The wide variety of Minnesota craft beers is pretty unique for an airport,” said Tom Whisenand, a co-founder of Indeed Brewing in Northeast Minneapolis, and the president of the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild.

Indeed was one of five brewers that put together a unique brew for Stone Arch’s grand opening in November.  Indeed’s offering was a fruit radler – a shandy with an aroma of cherry, lemon and hibiscus.

Whisenand has stopped into Stone Arch about a half dozen times since it opened, has talked to patrons, and said the response has been positive.

“We had people in town from the National Brewers Association last week,” Whisenand said recently. The brewers were here preparing for the National Home Brewers Conference, which is coming to Minneapolis June 15-17 in 2017.

The group was impressed with Stone Arch at MSP, he said. “If you’re impressing national brewers, that’s something we’re pretty proud of.”

OTG goes all in with local kitchen talent

When OTG Management opens a restaurant in an airport, the idea of “going local” is about much more than the location.

OTG, a restaurateur that operates restaurants and retail concepts in 11 airports across the U.S. and Canada, counts on local chefs to give its menus an authentic local flavor.

“When we go into an airport, we want to reflect what the area is about,” said Rob Moore, OTG’s executive chef at MSP.  “We want people to get a flavor of what the community has to offer.”

The company operates 13 venues at MSP, including seven full-service restaurants. When new restaurants open, OTG hires chefs from existing restaurants in the Twin Cities as consultants, usually on year-long contracts, to establish the on-site cuisine. 

Rob Moore, an executive chef for OTG, whips up a rice dish at MSP's Shoyu restaurant.

The food fare is dynamic too, as OTG’s restaurants change their menus twice a year to suit the season.

“We get well-known chefs working with us, we get their expertise,” Moore said.

Those chefs have included prominent names from some of the Twin Cities’ most popular restaurants, including Doug Flicker, known for his work at Piccolo in South Minneapolis, and who is now opening the new restaurant at the Walker Art Center.

Chef Russell Klein, of the French restaurant Meritage in St. Paul, has worked with OTG at the airport, as has Ann Kim of Pizzeria Lola in South Minneapolis, and Lenny Russo of Heartland Restaurant and Wine Bar in downtown St. Paul.

OTG’s restaurants also work to use locally sourced ingredients in their menu offerings.

All of the pastries and breads served at OTG venues are made by the Saint Agnes Baking Co. in St. Paul.

As Moore flipped through the menu at Shoyu -- an OTG-operated restaurant near the entrance to the G Concourse -- he pointed to the Shoyu Salad, which features mixed greens from Hidden Stream Farm, located near Elgin, Minn.

And a popular Shoyu entrée – the Japanese grilled chicken – features chicken breast from Wild Acres Farm Fresh Poultry in Pequot Lakes, Minn.

Opportunity knocks for student musicians at Republic

In addition to food and drink, passengers at MSP waiting for their next flight can now enjoy live music.

Earlier this fall, MSP became a regularly scheduled live music venue with the opening of Republic, a new restaurant and bar on the D Concourse.

The performers are students and faculty from the McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul, and the music makes MSP only the third airport in the country to feature a live music space, after Austin, Texas and Nashville, Tenn.

McNally Smith College of Music students setting up the performance space at Republic.


The performances are scheduled from 3:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, and from 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sundays, specifically to be synchronized with the banks of flights that bring the largest volume of passengers in and out of MSP.

There’s always the chance a celebrity musician may walk by Republic and want to perform, said Chris Osgood, vice president of community relations at McNally Smith. “We’ll keep some extra instruments in the space just for that very reason,” he said.

The performances at Republic are the result of a coordinated effort by several airport entities. They include SSP America – an operator of restaurants at MSP and other airports – Republic, McNally-Smith and the MAC.


Elliott Threatt, a joint venture partner with SSP who lives near McNally-Smith in downtown St. Paul, books the acts from the college. The performers are booked for two to three weeks at a time, so that they get to know the routine at the airport.

Pictured: Elliott Threatt of SSP America.

Threatt always meets with the artists before they perform at MSP to tell them about the setting and their audience.

The venue has led to sing-alongs and the crowds appreciate the performers, he said. But Threatt tells the artists to keep things in perspective too.

“I tell them don’t be upset if somebody leaves in the middle of a performance,” Threatt said, noting that customers are on the airlines' schedules, not their own. “They may have to go to Cleveland,” he said.