New Austin airport restaurants named after 'impossible' City Council decision

Local favorites 24 Diner and Parkside Restaurant earned spots in the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport’s upcoming expanded terminal, edging out classic Austin institutions Threadgill’s and Black’s BBQ in a Thursday decision City Council members called one of their toughest.

As part of the proposal, food court versions of Torchy’s Tacos, Noble Sandwich Co., Austin Beerworks, Hardie’s Fresh Foods and Sushi A-Go-Go will join the restaurants in the new nine-gate terminal expansion. Starbucks also earned coffee duties in the expanded terminal.

The winning bid—submitted by HMS Host and D.C. Garrett—scored 0.26 points higher than the bid that proposed Threadgill’s and Black’s BBQ as the new airport tenants—submitted by Paradies. Threadgill’s owner Eddie Wilson and Black’s BBQ owner Kent Black, citing decades of service to the city, attempted to make their case as to why council should overlook the 0.26-point difference and award them the contract.

Wilson said an opportunity to operate an airport location would be crucial for him to keep up with skyrocketing land costs.

Although the decision to put 24 Diner and Parkside in the airport was unanimous, council members said the decision was among the most difficult the city tasked them with making. Mayor Steve Adler initially threw his support behind Threadgill’s and Black’s BBQ in what he called an “impossible choice.”

“This is a really, really, really hard call for me,” Mayor Steve Adler said. “To me, while so many things are changing in this city, there are opportunities to try to hold on some things that are part of our culture that are endangered.”

District 5 Council Member Ann Kitchen also called the choice “impossible” but criticized the city’s procurement process. Procurement is the process of soliciting bids for a project and evaluating the proposals.

District 6 Council Member Jimmy Flannigan said the city’s procurement processes should not end in political debates.

“If you set out a process for the public and vendors in how you’re going to select a vendor, you should finish that process to the end,” Flannigan said. “As a council if we don’t think that process is working then we should change the process.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate or right to be changing vendors at the last second even if the scores are close.”

According to city documents, the airport’s terminal expansion is scheduled for completion by 2019. Garrett said the restaurants will be “ready to go on day one.”