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JWA food battle heats up – again

After the Airport Commission last month rejected Delaware North's proposal, the company says it can guarantee an additional $10 million in sales.

By Kristen SchottPublished: January 06, 2011 10:16 AM

Just a few days remain until the county Board of Supervisors votes on John Wayne Airport's food makeover, and Delaware North is upping its stakes. The food services provider has increased its guarantee on sales by $10 million, bringing its total projections to $34 million.

This comes in response to the Orange County Airport Commission's decision last month to go with a rival bidder – Host, whose lineup includes iconic restaurants such as Ruby's Diner, Zov's Cafe and Bakery, and Javier's.

Delaware North’s offerings include Wahoo's Fish Taco, a John Wayne-themed eatery, and restaurants from Food Network stars Masaharu Morimoto and Cat Cora.

Delaware North's new projection is just short of Host's $39 million minimum annual guarantee – an amount Delaware claims is not "feasible," according to a letter sent to the Board of Supervisors last month. The company says evaluating proposed revenue at the airport must be based on "metrics" used at other destinations.

"Our very prudent revenue projections to JWA are approximately 13.7 percent less than the Host proposal," notes the letter. "This coupled with our exceptional architecture and blend of local and national brands was embraced by your established evaluation process."

In addition, Delaware says that airport officials' evaluation of the bids gave its proposal the highest rating, with emphasis on menu offerings, functionality, design and uniqueness of the concepts.

"Unfortunately, the Orange County Airport Commission rejected the recommendation and stated 'we have to go with the money,'" or, Host's offer, according to the letter.

The Board of Supervisors will make its decision on Jan. 11.

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