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Food Network Kitchen eatery opens at Fla. airport

Associated Press Modified: November 26, 2012 at 3:15 pm •  Published: November 26, 2012

"On our way here, I was saying we wanted to get here early to sit down for a drink," she said as she nibbled on edamame and sipped on the house pinot grigio.

Beverages range from espresso to entwine, the Food Network's wine brand, to locally-inspired cocktails like Lansky's Run, named for the Prohibition-era gangster Meyer Lansky.

The design of the restaurant resembles the cable network's test kitchen: a butcher block bar counter, subway tiling, stainless steel surfaces and pots and pans hanging in a row — only here, they hang behind a cash register.

The network's logo is plastered on everything from to-go boxes to brown paper bags filled with jelly beans and chocolate-covered pretzels. Most of the TVs are tuned to the Food Network, though some show sports or news. There are also some fun facts on display: A poster near the cash register details local ingredients used in the meals, while paper placemats explain how to filet a fish and describe different cuts of beef.

"We really wanted to bring our culinary expertise to the forefront and bring the brand to life," Food Network's Kuharsky said. "I think people are going to be drawn to the brand, but it also comes down to taste."

But while the network has already put its name on consumer products like frying pans and candles, along with its concession stand and stadium food, serving quality food at an airport restaurant presents different challenges.

"Branding on the front lines has the most exposure and is different than putting your name on a logo," said Chris Tripoli, president of A'la Carte Foodservice Consulting Group, who has worked on food concepts in airports across the country. "Now that you have exposed yourself to the end user, your reputation, that Food Network brand, is going to be judged on the temperature of the green beans that day or by every bite of the sandwich."

Tripoli added that Food Network staffers on the restaurant's front lines "know their brand is only going to be as good as their last meal."

The Food Network and Delaware North Companies plan to open more outlets in the spring at the busy JetBlue terminal. Another Food Network Kitchen is scheduled to open at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport by the end of 2013.