Sydney cafe brand adapted for international airport

How do you transpose a popular suburban cafe concept into a busy airport environment? Danks Street Depot’s new Sydney Airport outlet is proof it can be done… 

Owner and executive chef of Danks Street Depot Jared Ingersoll earned himself the title of ’high priest of contemporary Sydney fare’ by the respected Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide.

Now he’s serving up the best in seasonal and sustainable produce in the food precinct on the departures level of Sydney International Airport.

Airports the world over are renowned for serving stale or insipid food to travellers who are too tired or stressed to care, but Sydney Airport, for all its faults, has taken a proactive step towards offering travellers actual dining experiences with a range of ethnic cuisine by respected names.

In partnership with global airport foodcourt specialist consultancy SSP, the iconic Sydney establishment, Danks Street Depot, has opened its first concession.

DSD was founded on the principles of the slow food movement – practising sustainable and ethical principles in sourcing raw ingredients to create delicious and nutritious cuisine. It supports local producers, ensuring quality seasonal produce and minimising unnecessary transportation and storage.

True to the original Waterloo restaurant, Danks Street Depot prepares its artisan inspired food in an open kitchen. All ingredients are sourced solely from trusted local growers and suppliers as Danks Street Depot showcases the diversity and quality of Australian food and flavours.

The result is the creation of new dishes from old traditions that are simple, honest and distinctly Australian. Think wild rabbit and pork terrine, crispy pork belly salad or Ingersoll’s signature toasted reuben sandwich.

He predicts the increasing prevalence of low cost carriers will raise demand for good food and drink from travellers before they board their planes.

Meanwhile, he is looking at expanding inflight meal offers.

“There’s the potential to do something really special,” he says, but right now he’s getting to grips with an airport environment and what customers’ expectations are.

“There’s a massive component with a food hall mentality and if we don’t entice them within the first few seconds they’ll just keep walking.”

Initial signs are good: Ingersoll reports that business is booming at the airport outposts.

Danks Street Depot Sydney

The retail design provides for a relaxing environment that is crafted from simple materials drawn from a minimal palette. A glimpse of the ‘show’ kitchen from the airport check-in area allows travellers to view the chefs at work.

We’ll let the pictures tell the story; suffice to say the design is eye-catching and modern – and well beyond the expectations of seasoned airport patrons.

“It’s not the easiest space in the world to make warm – sandwiched in an open air slot between the airline check-in counters and cheesy airport shops – but whoever designed it has done an admirable job.”

Danks Street Depot Sydney

Sydney Airport Corporation GM retail Derek Larsen said the facility’s aim was to align with partners who “share our determination to offer an outstanding airport and who are committed to excellence in everything they do”.
“Danks Street Depot is one such establishment. We are thrilled they have opened a site in T1 given their understanding and appreciation of the dynamic experience we aim to provide for the 38,000 visitors who pass through T1 daily,” said Larsen.

This feature first appeared in Inside Retailing Magazine. Click here to subscribe. 


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