Bobby Flay appears at his new restaurant at Hartsfield-Jackson

Byron Parker - Tuesday, October 30, 2018
Bobby Flay appears at his new restaurant at Hartsfield-Jackson

Celebrity chef Bobby Flay debuted his first airport restaurant this month, with the opening of Bobby’s Burger Palace on Concourse B at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Flay’s burger chain has 17 locations, but this is the first one in Atlanta and the first one at an airport.

The airport eatery, open since Oct. 11, has menu items like a pistachio shake, green chili cheeseburger, a Crunchburger with potato chips, and an ATL burger with pimento cheese and fried pickles that’s exclusive to this location.

“In some ways, it’s sort of a tour around America, on a burger,” Flay said. “Airport food has come a long way.... I was really skeptical earlier in my career about opening a restaurant at an airport. But things have really changed.”

Still, operating a restaurant at an airport is intense.

“There’s no meal period,” Flay said, while a street location has a lunch rush and dinner rush. At an airport, “it’s basically just, always.”

And the airport location -- unlike street locations of Flay’s burger chain -- serves breakfast including a jalapeno egg sandwich with bacon and queso, and is open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

But, “If there’s a storm that rolls through here, which happens often, we could be open until 2 o’clock in the morning, feeding people and making them cocktails,” Flay said.

Flay’s restaurant takes the place of another celebrity chef’s burger joint, Fly Burger by Tom Catherall, who ended up in a legal battle with the restaurant chain he founded in the wake of a divorce settlement.

The Hartsfield-Jackson location of Bobby’s Burger Palace is operated by Atlanta-based airport concessionaire Concessions International, which has a licensing deal for the restaurant as part of a joint venture between Concessions International and H&H Hospitality.

The idea for the Hartsfield-Jackson location started when Concessions International’s operating partner Charles Bluemle visited Flay’s restaurant Gato while he was in New York City for a James Beard Foundation event last year, and met Flay and his business partner there.

“I just like them,” Flay said. “They talked about food first, as opposed to business first.”

Bluemle said he was interested in the idea of craft burgers and the “nostalgia behind traveling” and finding something that can’t be found elsewhere.

Flay’s restaurant joins other burger purveyors at the world’s busiest airport, including Grindhouse Killer Burgers, Shake Shack, Five Guys, The Varsity, Boardwalk Fresh Burgers & Fries, Burger King and McDonald’s.

It’s yet to be seen whether Flay will open more airport locations. “I’m going to see how this one goes,” he said.

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