NMU may operate airport snack bar

MARQUETTE – Northern Michigan University could begin operating the terminal snack bar at Sawyer International Airport under an agreement with Marquette County.

Sawyer Operations Manager Steve Schenden said the snack bar at the airport has been vacant since fall 2011 and airport staff has been unsuccessful in their attempts to locate a food and beverage operator.

Northern Michigan University’s Dining and Conference Services has proposed a concession agreement, which the Marquette County Board is scheduled to consider at this evening’s meeting.

The board meets at 6 p.m. in Room 231 of the Henry Skewis Annex to the Marquette County Courthouse in Marquette.

In a memorandum to Marquette County Administrator Scott Erbisch, Schenden said limited infrastructure at the airport snack terminal has proven to be a challenge to finding a snack bar operator.

“Because of these limitations, prospective operators are unable to actually prepare food at the site and are restricted to the resale of cold and/or reheated food items that must be prepared off-site and transported,” Schenden said. “Airport staff has filled the need for hot and cold beverages through the use of vending machines, but are unable to capture a vendor capable of supplying hot/cold sandwiches or additional amenities, such as magazines, souvenirs and travel size toiletries.”

NMU has proposed providing the service under a one-year trial period beginning Sept. 1, with an option for another year contingent upon both parties agreeing to it. NMU would pay no rent for the snack bar.

Marquette County would pay up to $10,000 for new front and back cases, countertops, sinks and equipment necessary to meet county health department and building code requirements. Electric utility reimbursement would be negotiated based on the new equipment.

NMU would provide a limited menu on a rotating basis and NMU shirts and novelty items, along with a limited selection of newspapers and magazines.

In addition to the existing snack bar, the concession area will also include an adjacent fixed seating area and a storage area, measuring 6 feet by 10 feet. Custodial services for the seating area would by provided by the county, while NMU would be responsible for custodial service in the snack bar area.

NMU would provide interior painting, a point-of-sale system and signs.

Schenden said the agreement with NMU would provide a needed service at the terminal and recommends the county board accept the concession agreement with NMU.

Additional agenda items include an update from the Lake Superior Community Partnership, improvements at Sawyer International Airport, policy change recommendations and the issue of whether commissioners should be voting members on boards and commissions.

John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.