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Celebrity chef goes to the airport for new venture

Celebrity chef goes to the airport for new venture

January 8th, 2012 in News

CLEVELAND (AP) - Cleveland-born celebrity chef Michael Symon is taking his food to the airport - and Pittsburgh.

The Food Network "Next Iron Chef" winner and co-host of ABC's "The Chew" this spring plans to open Bar Symon, a restaurant and bar, at Pittsburgh International Airport, and Symon and his partners hope to take the concept to a series of other airports, The Plain Dealer reported (

The TV chef and cookbook author is entering into the venture with the family that owned BanJoe's Café, a restaurant that shut down at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and was a favorite of Symon's. It was "the only place there to get good food and coffee," he wrote on Facebook a little over a year ago when BanJoe's was closing.

The Rababy family's Cleveland-based United Concessions Group Inc. will operate the Pittsburgh airport eatery, with The Paradies Shops of Atlanta. According to the lease agreement, Bar Symon will begin serving travelers in May. The menu will spotlight the chef's signature takeoffs on comfort food, including his Lola Burger that has a fried egg and pickled red onions on top.

"We are confident that Bar Symon will be second-to-none in providing our hurried patrons quality food they can trust and that's responsibly farmed in a sustainable fashion," said Ben Rababy, United Concessions Group vice president. The company has an exclusive license for airport-based Michael Symon restaurants.

Symon's existing restaurants are mostly in more traditional settings and mostly in Cleveland and the surrounding area, though he does have one of his B Spot burger joints at Quicken Loans Arena, where it's open only during Cleveland Cavaliers home games.

Rababy said Symon would eventually like to have a Bar Symon within the Cleveland airport. But more immediately, the cooking star has another restaurant project in mind for his hometown. He said on Facebook last month that he's working on a concept that will feature new spins on Cleveland cuisine.

Information from: The Plain Dealer,