Preparing a flight manual: Coolgreens readies airport eatery, potential franchises for takeoff

Published Tuesday, August 15, 2017
by Molly M. Fleming

Coolgreens CEO Robert Lee said the company has always wanted to have breakfast on its menu. It will get its chance at Will Rogers World Airport.

“The challenge is finding something that’s hearty and will fill someone up, but not be greasy and bog you down,” Lee said.

The company is offering mini to-go-type quiches. The breakfast items consist of an egg-based batter baked with omelet fillings. The menu will also have breakfast parfaits.

The airport site will have energy bites, snack cookies and the full Coolgreens menu. The company has evolved the airport location while preparing its franchisee package. New franchisees could be announced this month, he said.

Delaware North handles the 11 concession areas at the airport. Delaware North’s Oklahoma City general manager, Michael Moses, said the company is trying to tie the community into its operations. But that’s a little more difficult to do at the airport since it takes a ticket to get to the food area.

“Our ultimate goal in bringing this to the airport is to offer the same experience here as a customer would get in the store,” he said.

The Coolgreens airport staff will technically work for Delaware North. But Lee’s company name is still at stake. He said he had an operations manual and other guides ready to go so his team can teach Delaware’s staff about how Coolgreens sets itself apart from its competition.

The manual and other guides will come in handy as the company starts selling franchises, he said.

“The challenge there was making sure you translate all those materials so they can be taught to a franchisee or at the airport,” he said.

Moses and Lee are going to give the staff the best of both worlds. The Delaware North team will work at a Coolgreens store for three weeks, then do two more weeks of training at the airport.

“We want to bring that environment to the airport,” Moses said.

Lee said that’s how he plans to work with the franchisees as well – train at an existing store, then train at their site. This helps them see how the restaurant should be run and adjust those operations to their space.

“It’s completely different seeing it and being taught in a store that we run,” Lee said. “Once it’s your own store, it’s different.”

The franchise stores will be 1,800 to 2,400 square feet. At the airport, there’s a shared kitchen and Coolgreens’ own space measures about 1,000 square feet. The seating area is open to all travelers.

Oklahoma City customers will notice a difference in the salad bar’s length. The bar can measure 25-to-30 feet for a regular site. At the airport it’s 15 feet, with the less popular items kept in a fridge underneath the bar.

Lee said after he’s operating at the airport, he thinks a similar model could work on university campuses. Moses said he thinks it would make sense to see where it could be put into other airports. Delaware North works in food operations at 21 other North American airports.

The Will Rogers Coolgreens will open in mid-September, Lee said.

“I’m excited to bring a healthy, fresh choice to the travelers in Oklahoma City,” Moses said.

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