Local food lands at Logan Airport
Upscale market offers farm-fresh options from the Berkshires
Michael Levine figured travelers would want to eat local even when they were about to fly off to someplace else, but he wasn’t counting on the crowds that have flocked to his Berkshire Farms Market at Logan International Airport during its first four months of operation.
The upscale food market, in the newly renovated Terminal B, offers a range of local food products that stand out from typical fast-food-style airport fare.
Berkshire Farms sells maple syrup and roasted nuts made in Williamstown, chocolate from Sheffield, gluten-free brownies from Great Barrington, jams and preserves canned in Ashfield, and other foods from the Berkshires. It also sells made-to-order smoothies, pastries from the South End Buttery, charcuterie with local meats, and sandwiches on fresh Iggy’s bread from Cambridge.
Initially, Levine predicted sales would reach $1.7 million during the first year, but he said business is now on track to generate about $3.7 million. He credits the success to high foot traffic around the store because of its prime location and the popularity of the local-food movement.
“It’s pretty amazing,” he said. “We’re not perfect yet. We still have some service issues to work out, because we weren’t prepared to do this volume.”
Levine is chief executive of Tastes on the Fly, a San Mateo, Calif., company that operates food establishments at several airports around the country. He modeled the Logan store after Napa Farms Market, a foodie haven that he opened at San Francisco International Airport three years ago. It sells sustainable, organic, and local foods from the Napa Valley and the Bay Area.
The San Francisco shop is about four times the size of the 1,200-square-foot Boston market. But despite the size difference, he said, the Boston store attracts about half as many customers as the California shop.
Kathy Kopp, a Watertown resident, came across Berkshire Farms Market as she waited for a flight to Washington, D.C., on a recent day.
“It’s about time. This is terrific,” said Kopp, who packs yogurt and fruit from home to avoid eating fast food when she travels. “For years we’ve just had this crappy airport food.”
Thomas Glynn, chief executive of the Massachusetts Port Authority, which operates Logan, said it is trying to adapt to the evolution of eating habits by offering better food. He cited Legal Sea Foods as another healthier option in Terminal B.
“It puts us on the map and reminds us that the Berkshires is not just Tanglewood,” Glynn said of the market.
Tastes on the Fly partnered with Berkshire Farm & Table — an organization that promotes the Berkshires’ food producers — to find local vendors to supply the store.
Angela Cardinali, founder of Berkshire Farm & Table, said many vendors previously sold goods at seasonal farmers markets or to small co-ops. The airport store provides them with a year-round venue, she said.
“It’s hugely positive for our region,” Cardinali said. “The signage and the awareness that it creates about the Berkshires is really important. It’s a huge win for the producers.”
Levine said that the popularity of the market has him thinking about opening a second one in another terminal at Logan.