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"Officials unhappy about plans for martini bar near Pittsburgh airport security"


 
Thursday, May 27, 2004

Officials unhappy about plans for martini bar near airport security
By Mark Belko
The Pittsburgh (PA) Post-Gazette


A martini bar near the security checkpoint at Pittsburgh International
Airport?

That's one of the ideas being considered for space in the airport's
landside building next to the checkpoint, where travelers are screened
for weapons and explosives before boarding planes.

A National City Bank office now at the location will be closing next
month, freeing up the space for other uses.

Mark Knight, regional director for BAA USA Inc., which manages airport
concessions, said the company is looking at adding some type of casual
bar and restaurant there.

He said a martini bar is one of the ideas that has been discussed, but
added it's not the only one. Nothing has been finalized.

"We've looked at a wide range of options," he said.

Neither Robert Blose, the federal security director at the airport, nor
Airport Authority Executive Director Kent George are exactly toasting
the idea of a martini bar.

"I'm not in favor of that," said Blose, who works for the U.S.
Transportation Security Administration. "You obviously are very
concerned about people imbibing too much."

Blose said he plans to talk to Knight and George about his concerns. He
said he would prefer to use the space to expand the checkpoint to
expedite traveler screenings.

"We don't need any more challenges. We have enough challenges," he said.

George said he would not be in favor of having any hard liquor sold at
the location. "I don't think it's a good idea to have hard liquor
available next to the checkpoint," he said.

Knight said he believes it's possible to serve alcohol at the location
without sacrificing security if it's done properly.

Meanwhile, Au Bon Pain, an eatery now located near the checkpoint, is
planning to sell beer and wine, Knight said, and already has applied for
a liquor license.

George said the sales would be done on a "test basis."

"If we have any difficulty whatsoever, it will be canceled," he said.

BAA is planning the restaurant/bar in the landside building because it
has become a gathering point for people sending off or greeting
travelers. People without tickets no longer are allowed beyond the
checkpoint.


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