Star chef Johnny Hernandez was recently awarded a major concessions contract at San Antonio International Airport that will allow him to present his take on Mexican cuisine to travelers from home and abroad.
Hernandez and partner HMSHost won a seven-year, multimillion-dollar contract that will bring the first franchise of the acclaimed La Gloria, which has earned the chef critical praises and a cult-like following for his take on traditional Mexican street food.
Hernandez has been in the restaurant business since he was 5 years old, when he became interested in his father's restaurant. He attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York, and honed his palate at the Mirage Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nev., and the Four Seasons Biltmore in Santa Barbara, Calif.
He sees his foray into airport dining as part of San Antonio's current cultural and culinary resurgence.
"Airport food isn't just about convenience anymore," he says, adding that he has enjoyed excellent meals at airports in San Francisco and Chicago. "I think we can change the way people look at airport dining. My goal is for travelers to experience the food and culture of La Gloria as they travel through our airport."
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A franchised location of The Fruteria will also be housed in Terminal A, along with Mission City Ice House Bar, which will specialize in local craft beers and spirits.
Hernandez will handle the management, design details and menu creation himself to ensure that airport diners get a unique and authentically Mexican dining experience.
The phased project is expected to be completed by December 2013, with La Gloria slated to open in June 2013.
Hernandez will also partner on the HMSHost-created Mediterranean-style La Tapenade and San Antonio's first Steak 'n Shake franchise, also to be located in Terminal A.
"When we set out to bring finer dining to Texas airports, partnering with Johnny was a natural choice," says Anthony Alessi, vice president of business development at HMSHost. His style "fits in beautifully with our current marquee chefs like Rick Bayless and Todd English."
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