Heathrow Airport has brought together a number of its restaurant operators, including Gordon Ramsay's Plane Food and Giraffe, to design a bespoke menu for a pop-up dining area which may become a permanent feature as the airport continues to update its F&B offer.
The 'indoor picnic area' features turf and park benches and allows diners to choose specially-created meals from a number of existing operators which can then be eaten in the park environment.
The two-week themed pop-up concept may well become a regular feature at the airport next year alongside a permanent pop-up F&B space elsewhere in the terminal which is due to open in 2013.
"Within T5 we have identified a permanent F&B pop-up space that will come on-line early next year," Ben Crowley, head of food and beverage at Heathrow, told BigHospitality.
"The space will remain the same but the brands throughout the year will change. You need to have all the utilities and hand washing abilities. We are actually investing considerable money to put all these services in so the pop-up can operate more akin to a food and beverage operator rather than just food gifting."
Both developments are the latest moves by Heathrow as airports continue to try to modernise and improve the quality of their dining offer as well as incorporate restaurant brands which are increasingly keen to have a presence in transport hubs.
"F&B is really important. It is one of the highest participating categories we have," Crowley said.
The temporary pop-up is designed to tap into the growing street food trend and to encourage rushed travellers to try the food options while being able to relax in ‘the park’.
"Being in an airside environment, it is quite tricky to be able to create theatre and newness because of some of the restrictions that come with operating in an airport," Crowley added.
Terminal 2 and 4
The airport boss revealed managers were constantly looking at wider restaurant trends to update the Heathrow offer and to use as reference when deciding on contract renewals.
Next on the horizon for restaurant brands is a new F&B area in Terminal 4 and the airport is also part of the way through a tender process for restaurants to operate in a new Terminal 2.
"It is a brand new terminal building which will be very similar to Terminal 5 but just on a smaller scale. It opens in June 2014," Crowley explained.
"We have been blown away by the submissions and the brands, even existing partners which have really evolved their brands to be part of Terminal 2. To have that crystal ball as to what will be relevant then (in 2014) is the $64m question."
For the temporary pop-up, the airport conducted research which showed Brits put a third of their holiday allowance aside to spend on making sure they can unwind as they kick off the beginning of their trip.
The dishes available all contain ingredients nutritionists say are best for people about to board a long flight.
Gordon Ramsay's Plane Food has produced a smoked chicken and mango salad, while there will be avocado and crab Maki rolls from Itsu and Caviar House has created fish tartar canapés made from Norwegian salmon.