Capturing the spirit of Austin

New York design firm Icrave CEO Lionel Ohayon reveals the inspiration behind the food & beverage programme at Austin Bergstrom International Airport. Mark Lane reports.

New York design firm Icrave aimed to capture the “iconic spirit of the city” of Austin when it created an enhanced food & beverage (and overall commercial) offering in expanding Austin Bergstrom International Airport’s original main terminal.

The company has worked on behalf of concessionaire Delaware North on a 22,459sq ft programme to create ten new venues housing 16 brands, all of which have opened for business in recent weeks.

Describing the overarching theme of the project, Icrave founder and CEO Lionel Ohayon says his firm focused on local staples and music, with the aim of making “the airport an extension of the cultural offerings of the city”.

He notes: “The design aesthetics are personal to each brand, yet cohesive in their acknowledgement of the character of Austin.”

The brief to create “anxiety-free, tech-savvy luxurious experiences” has produced 13 new F&B venues and three new retail spaces.

Highlights of the F&B line-up include the 4,838sq ft Heart of Austin, home to a variety of eateries and a stage for live performances.

Delaware North’s commercial area revamp coincides with the just-opened US$350 million Barbara Jordan Terminal at Austin Bergstrom, which has added capacity of 11 million passengers annually. The concessionaire has also been the lead player behind a number of new F&B and retail outlets in the 175,000sq ft development.

Ohayon discusses the F&B venues in detail in the rest of this feature.

Haymaker (1,705sq ft)

“Haymaker Austin is a classic local sports bar with an industrial edge, a touch of hospitality, and tons of UT [University of Texas] pride. The bright graphics of reclaimed gym floors pop against a neutral, dark palette. Galvanised steel dining chairs reflect the casual fare, while black leather banquettes offer the perfect seat to catch a game.

“The bar features changing, digital craft beer menus, over 30 taps, and numerous big-screen TVs. High top, communal seating and an interactive memorabilia wall promote the social atmosphere of this friendly, neighbourhood bar while embracing Austin’s history, community, and culture.”

Tacodeli (1,591sq ft)

“Tacodeli has been gaining popularity around Austin recently and what better place to cement the brand’s dominance than in Austin Bergstrom International Airport? Reflected in the materials and palette, the design mixes refined and subtle with and vibrant and energetic. Bold graphics are used on the interior of the light features to create impact against the wood louvered ceiling.

“Neon signage and bright bold pops of colour work in conjunction with metal mesh accents to create a low-key playful modern restaurant. Graphically applied wall tile wraps around the bar to a small music nook where performers can serenade diners and those rushing for a flight, bringing down the anxiety level of all.”

Einstein Bros. Bagels (642sq ft)

“Taking into account the Einstein Bros. Bagels brand, we looked to create a dynamic and vibrant interpretation for the Austin location. A bold yellow band is used to create a bright energetic entry moment that pairs well with the vibrancy of the next door Tacodeli.

“Feature marquee lighting is used in tandem with the laser cut metal panels to really feature the entry signage pulling people into the space. The yellow band around the full venue also helps to unify the space with the existing FIDs as well as complement a similar feature at the Jetset Market across the concourse.

“The yellow band around the full venue also helps to unify the space with the existing FIDs. After you’ve confirmed your departing gate in the FIDs take a peek inside the glass bagel display brought to the front to showcase the quality and freshness of the well-known brand’s signature bagels.”

Salt Lick (1,466sq ft)

“A staple of Austin culture, Salt Lick is inspired by the raw authenticity of its original Driftwood location. Combining fundamental materials and robust structure into a humble environment, this new location gives an Austin BBQ experience like no other. Travellers’ needs are met with an ample number of outlets and, of course, a sauce rail at every seat.

“Various seating options at the bar, dining tables, and communal tables offer individual privacy or the chance to share a meal with a group or with someone new. Numerous screens offer menu flexibility and brand media opportunities for visual enjoyment.

“Approaching down the west concourse from the Heart of Austin, visitors are received by a large, glowing canopy of wood and metal mesh that wraps under, drawing customers into the restaurant. Once inside, the cutting station is highlighted by a circular glow above, bringing customers front and centre to the barbecue action.

“Directly under the canopy, the bar features a variety of drink options, as well as the signature Salt Lick sangria. Distressed wood, rough stone, and worn concrete keep the new space familiar, while the blackened steel, metal mesh, and honest lighting give a unique flavour to a local favourite.”

West Food Park (3,044sq ft)

“Located at the western crossroads of the airport circulation, this food park is in the perfect location to been seen from a wide variety of vantage points. Consisting of four venues: East Side Pies, Pizza, Hat Creek Burger Company, and Amy’s Ice Creams – with a ‘Grab n Go Market’ there are numerous jewels, but one of several Instagrammable moments designed into this airport is the wooden billboard. It acts as the focal element and unifier for all four venues.

“It is the first thing you’ll see when approaching your gate and it’s the last thing you’ll see when leaving the airport. East Side Pies, started by Paul Qui and Moto Utsunomiya, is a big contributor to the Austin food truck community. This venue with its warm wood tones and colourful artistic wall murals reflects the fun and energetic vibe initiated and represented by this brand.

“Hat Creek Burger Company has a neutral, casual palette of wood tones, whites and grays with a pop of red. The Grab n Go Market is a clean, fresh backdrop allowing the four venues to really pop out and remain in the foreground. Amy’s Ice Creams is a hip, fun and playful venue.”

Heart of Austin (4,838sq ft)

“The Heart of Austin is the reason one decides to come to the airport an extra hour or two early. The layout allows customer to enter on a whim and into a bustling beer hall environment revealing the stage as a backdrop to the space. It has a local Austin feel architecturally inspired by Austin house typologies abstracted to their essential forms. The feature bleacher seating above Joe’s Coffee allows a prime view to the “Asleep at the Wheel” stage.

“And among the playful Adirondack chair lounge, the food truck parts, Joe’s Coffee wall, and the shuffleboard and other games there are plenty of moments for solo traveller, family, business traveller, or a group of friends to enjoy themselves (and get some good shots for social media #abia #austin #keepitweird #keepitawesome).”

Rainey Street Market (3,463sq ft)

“Inspired by the eclectic energy of its namesake neighbourhood, Rainey Street Market is a warm and vibrant space that supports the needs of both the local foodie and the hurried traveller. Central to the design of the market is its iconic neon sign which acts as a beacon to draw travellers into the space.

“Once inside, neutral finishes and warm, dark tones allow the merchandise to take centre stage. Farm tables, glass pendants, and wood-paneled walls echo the friendly, residential Rainey Street vibe, while sleek, black details keep the space contemporary and fresh. A grab-and-go market offers quick, light fare for those on the move.

“Exciting local vendors and hand-picked artisanal products provide an authentic taste of Austin to its visitors. Picnic tables intended for communal gathering are wired for charging on the go, while touch-to-order options, digital menu boards, and self-checkout stations bring convenience and efficiency to the bustling market.”

The Moodie Davitt eZine | Issue 260 | 7 May 2019