The food offerings at SeaTac are about to be amped up, which means watching flights take off at the Glass Wall will become imminently more enjoyable.
Watching flights take off at SeaTac's Glass Wall will become imminently more enjoyable once the food offerings improve. Getty

Modern air travel is a generally a wretched experience, from the actual travel part right down to the time you spend in the airport waiting to endure your miserable, cramped flying experience. Even the most well-appointed airport is still a soulless wasteland of overpriced, undercooked nachos and AB InBev beers, perhaps with a bit of branding slapped on it, which offers little cheer before the cheerless experience of fighting for overhead bin space. Now, however, the dining portion of our local airport experience it is about to get a little more tolerable, as the Port of Seattle just announced the winning bids for its big dining and retail overhaul.

There is, of course, a Starbucks “Urban Market” and a smattering of other corporate shit—this is the airport after all—but the list represents a pretty significant shift away from the type of overpriced, miserably bad corporate concepts we’ve accepted as one of the grim realities of air travel for far too long.

The new and improved SeaTac will feature such local favorites as the Stone House Café, Good Bar, Standard Bakery/Broadcast Coffee Roasters, Macrina Bakery, and Slate Coffee Roasters. There’s even a Sub Pop Records/Lil Woody’s collaboration called Poppa Woody’s in the works, to really hammer home the hyper-local hipness of it all.

“We’re particularly pleased that so many local minority and small businesses see the benefit of opportunities at Sea-Tac Airport, will create new jobs, and help us share a Pacific Northwest sense of place with our passengers,” said Port of Seattle Commission President Tom Albro in the announcement, noting that the process was weighted to favor such applicants.

Given the emphasis on small, local, and minority-owned businesses, and the fact that the food from many of those businesses is orders of magnitude better than the lifeless nachos at the Alaska Lodge, this is news that should please everyone. At least if they don't confine all the minority-owned businesses to the airport concessions equivalent of a ghetto, that is.

There is, however, at least one party that’s not so thrilled. The lease for Ivar’s Seafood was not renewed, and they’re pretty salty about it. Salty enough to call out the Port on Twitter, in fact.

To be fair to Ivar’s, they are a local chain and they do have a semi-legitimate claim to being a Seattle icon, but I can’t say I’ve ever found myself craving their dependable-but-unremarkable clam chowder before a flight. Perhaps that’s because my usual fortification for a flight comes in the form of multiple boilermakers. But even if I was going to ingest something other than booze, I’d take Good Bar’s lovely pickled eggs over Ivar’s anyday.

However, to a certain type of Republican, the absence of Ivar’s is representative of the Port's ongoing assault on all that is good and true and virtuous in the state.

I’ll go ahead and order you the “Make Seattle Great Again” hats you're so obviously yearning for, bud. While we’re waiting, here’s a lovely roast from the lovely Michael Maddux reminding him that, until Republicans stop attacking things that are actually virtuous, they’ve lost their license to complain about anything ever.

Oh, and if you’re similarly aggrieved about the loss of airport chowder options, Ivar’s started a petition about it.

Questions of clam chowder loyalty aside, flying still sucks—it’s expensive, terrible for the environment, and the airport experience invariably leaves you feeling like livestock—but this redevelopment lineup definitely makes it all suck a little less. And hopefully funnels some serious captive-audience cash into the pockets of minority business owners. Mega win!