DES MOINES, Iowa -- In March the Des Moines International Airport had the highest number of passengers ever traveling through its terminal. Despite future reconstruction plans to tear down and expand the current terminal, the airport built four new restaurants last year; Arugula and Rye, Mills Supply, Porter Mill and Berk & Chesters.
The four new restaurants are a little more than a year old, and in that year a record number 2.77 million passengers came through the airport, setting another record for the new restaurants.
“We are up over 20 percent from last year’s sales alone, and that’s amazing in the restaurant business to be up that much,” Des Moines International Airport Operations Manager Larry Shyman said.
The number of passengers increased by 7.4 percent last year, and the airport says the current terminal will exceed capacity sooner than expected. Even though there are plans of tearing down the current terminal to build an even bigger one, the airport says the new restaurants were necessary.
“We were very dissatisfied with the product that was being offered to the passengers coming through,” Des Moines International Airport Executive Director Kevin Foley said. “We get compliments today on the food offering instead of complaints that we used to get.”
Alexis Quigley is currently a Porter Mill employee and has worked at the airport restaurants for six years. She said the biggest complaint was the lack of products.
“Low staff, running out of food, which is not good for people that are hungry and ready to get out of here or layovers or delays and stuff like that,” Quigley said.
Depending on federal funding, construction on the new terminal is set to begin in 2026 and be completed by 2028. That’s why the airport decided to make the investment on the restaurants.
“We felt it was more important for the passenger experience, even if we broke even, the passenger experience needed to improve, so we made the investment, and as it turns out we’ve got plenty of time to recover our investment as well,” Foley said.
The airport hopes the additions make the stop the best it can be for travelers in Des Moines.
“For me, what I love about Des Moines is that I’m in and I’m out,” airport passenger Omar Jordan said. “It’s a small but yet big airport, so it allows any passenger to come in and out extremely easily.”
Construction is already underway on the south side of the airport. Authorities said it will be another year before passengers will begin to see construction of the parking garages.