Jan 13, 2020

MSP Airport’s focus on service starts with frontline employees who interact daily with airport customers -- and concession (food + beverage, services, and retail) employees are some of its most valued.

To recognize leaders who set a high bar for customer service over the past year, the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) recently honored top concessionaires with its 5-Star Service Awards.

The awards are given out annually in seven categories to specific venues who’s employees score highest as a group in the airport’s “Secret Shopper” program.

The shoppers are hired by an independent firm that the MAC contracts with to visit shops and restaurants and measure the service they experience.

MSP’s Aero Service Group (ASG) is the newly minted “Merchant of the Year” at MSP.

The operator of several concessions at MSP, including the popular Stone Arch restaurant and bar, runs its business like a street-side restaurant, said Liz Grzechowiak, the MAC’s assistant director of concessions and business development.

ASG pays special attention to its regular customers, updates menus frequently and has an active social media presence, she said.

Winners in six other categories include:

The Best Casual Dining Restaurant is Black Sheep Pizza. The well-known local brand opened a location at MSP on the Airport Mall a couple of years ago and continues to be one of the highest-scoring businesses in the Secret Shopper program.

L’etoile Market by Hudson at Terminal 2 is the Best News and Convenience Store. The clean, well-run store thrives on its attention to customers’ needs, which produces strong service scores.

The Best Quick Service Restaurant is Angel Food Bakery. The bakery on Concourse E at Terminal 1 is known for its exceptional quality, trendy treats and friendly staff. Angel Food is also consistently one of the top scorers in the Secret Shopper program.

Aveda won the Best Specialty Retail Store for its staff’s consistent attention to detail to meet customers’ needs, its beautifully designed shop on the Airport Mall and the spa-like experience that it offers.

The Best Passenger Service award winner is Wings Financial Credit Union. Now located on Concourse C, Wings has Secret Shopper scores that are through the roof, due to consistent, friendly service with every customer who steps inside. The credit union has strong ties to MSP, as it was founded many decades ago by seven Northwest Airlines employees.

The Best Sustainability Program award went to Cocina del Barrio, a popular spot for scratch-made Latin cuisine and cocktails at Terminal 2. Barrio scores high on its monthly back-of-house audits, which are separate from the Secret Shopper program.

Barrio managed its waste streams efficiently and has been an enthusiastic participant in the MAC’s larger recycling program, as confirmed by MAC staff. Cocina del Barrio is a Twin Cities favorite, with several other locations in the metro area.