Spanish restaurateur to open US headquarters here
By Suzy Valentine
The world's fourth-largest operator of restaurants in transit locations - winner of a contract at Miami International Airport - is to open a US base here by year's end.
Spanish company AREAS beat out contenders including the Compass Group and Mark Soyka of News Caf» fame to operate 12 food concessions - most in the South Terminal.
AREAS runs its worldwide operations from Barcelona. It is eyeing sites in the Waterford area near the airport and in Brickell for a US base that would supply 150 to 200 jobs.
"We feel we should have our US headquarters here by the end of the year, by December" said Director General Javier Gavil∑n. "Since we want to develop within the US, we have to focus on how many people we need and how we want to develop our strategy for the airport and highway business."
Everything is on track for ratification of the airport package ahead of a headquarters opening.
"AREAS responded to a request for proposals at the airport," said the company's attorney in Miami, Mitchell Bierman of Weiss Serota Helfman Pastoriza Guedes Cole & Boniske. "There were two packages. AREAS won package two that will have locations mainly in the South Terminal but also in the North Terminal. The former will come on line first in 2006. All locations should be open by 2007."
Last month an evaluation panel recommended Atlanta-based Miami Concessions for the first package and AREAS for the second.
"The county manager has approved the selection committee's recommendation and the item should be on the Regional Transportation Committee agenda Oct. 14," said Greg Chin, Miami-Dade Aviation Department media relations coordinator. "The item could be forwarded to the full [county commission] board for its Nov. 1 meeting."
AREAS is looking at other US locations.
"Our business plan looks forward to New York and Los Angeles," said Mr. Gavil∑n. "After that, we have a five-year plan to be in most of the big airports in the US."
Meanwhile, the company has plans to broaden its reach if US operations take off.
"The idea is to start with the US," Mr. Gavil∑n said, "and in a year we may start to develop the business in Latin America. We are already operating in Argentina, Chile and Mexico. We are looking for opportunities in the Dominican Republic and Brazil."
Spanish companies continue to choose Miami-Dade to set up regional bases. This year, the Beacon Council has worked in attracting these companies from Spain:
Bodaclick.com, an Internet wedding portal.
Easy Products USA Corp., a manufacturer and distributor of protective coverings for cables.
OPTENET, a producer of software tools to select and filter Internet access.
PGI Group International, consulting engineers in electricity, mechanics and plumbing.
The economic development agency is continuing its Spanish recruitment.
"In February the Beacon Council is going to Spain," said new Chairman Neisen Kasdin, an attorney with Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart in Miami. "That's how we landed our largest deal with Telefonica. That mission should generate a lot of leads."