Samuel Adams Brewhouse opens in Columbia airport, part of extensive food/retail overhaul

Posted 9/14/23

A bar and restaurant bearing the name of one of the country's biggest craft beer brands is among the new options available at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport.

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Samuel Adams Brewhouse opens in Columbia airport, part of extensive food/retail overhaul


A bar and restaurant bearing the name of one of the country's biggest craft beer brands is among the new options available at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport, as the Lexington County transit hub looks to overhaul its dining and retail options.

The West Columbia airport recently announced that terminal eateries Carolina Subs and Riverbanks Bar & Grill have been replaced, respectively, by a Jimmy John’s and Samuel Adams Brewhouse.

“Updating our food, beverage and retail locations throughout the airport has been a top priority for CAE,” Mike Gula, the airport’s president and CEO, is quoted in a release. “We want to ensure our valued passengers not only have an easy travel experience while at CAE, but one that includes offerings from national brands, new and healthy dining options and expanded retail items that are quick and convenient.”

The new additions are part of what the release calls “a multi-phased effort to revamp ... food, beverage, and retail operations across the airport, with an estimated completion date for all concepts slated for the winter of 2024.”

On the food and beverage side of the equation, this will also include the current Sunrise Café becoming a Dunkin' later this month and The Family Caterer To-Go — an outgrowth of the catering company owned by Carolina Concessions, the airport’s food and beverage concessionaire, that specializes in to-go family meals — getting added to the airport’s lobby, without the need to go through security to access it.

As for that brewhouse bearing the name of the brewery known for its Boston Lager among other popular grocery store beer options, it’s the second airport location in the state.

“Because the location is based on a naming rights agreement with the parent company, these brewhouses are in a number of airports including Charleston International Airport, Miami International Airport, Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Boston Logan International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport and many more,” Kim Crafton, the airport’s vice president of marketing and air service development, told the Chronicle.

There is also a Samuel Adams Brewhouse at Fort Knox in Kentucky.

Crafton said the location here will feature traditional brewhouse food and beverage options, serving dishes ranging from the expected cheeseburgers, salads, chicken fingers and quesadillas to Southern-influenced items like pulled pork barbecue tots, chicken wings, fried chicken and Philly sliders.

“We are so excited to be a part of the new growth at CAE,” Sandra Sims, owner and operator of Carolina Concessions, is quoted. “Our team is on board to help to make CAE’s travelers’ experience an easy and enjoyable one. We hope by bringing in national brands, travelers will find food options that will satisfy their taste buds. We have always put the quality of our food and service as the top focus for our company, and we will continue to do so with these new additions.”

The release notes that the concessions provider “also plans to roll out an in-terminal kiosks system and mobile app, allowing travelers the opportunity to pre-order menu items before going through security and pick-up on the way to their gates.”

The airport’s retail options are also set to see significant changes, with Capital Marketplace becoming Vista Trading (“offering grab-n-go snacks and travel essentials”), Columbia Travelmart becoming Explore Columbia (“a local marketplace concept with products from Midlands-area vendors”) and The Three Rivers Collection operating in the main lobby pre-security (offering “a hybrid of travel essentials and branded ‘shop in shops’ with Avanti Markets vending machines in the former PGA Tour Shops portion of the store”).

“Airports continuously update and modernize their retail and dining offerings to stay current with passenger expectations,” Crafton is quoted. “CAE is excited to move forward with this redevelopment and knows these new brands and concepts will appeal to today’s travelers.”

The airport has continued to make upgrades in recent years, seeking to maintain and add to continued gains in travelers. Last year, the West Columbia hub exceeded 1 million passengers for the first time since COVID-19, continuing its march back to the 10-year passenger record it set in 2019.

Earlier this year, the airport unveiled its new in-line baggage system, allowing travelers to drop off their checked bags at ticket counters instead of having to walk them to external scanners. The transit hub has also targeted upgrading its Transportation Security Administration checkpoints (with help from a $5 million Federal Aviation Administration Airport Terminals Program grant).

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