As of the summer, townies will be able to enjoy a taste of home before hitting the road, in the form of a Yellowbelly beer, or a handful of NL Chocolate Company chocolates.

St. John’s International Airport Authority announced the addition of these two “strong Newfoundland brands” to the airport’s expanding Departures lounge yesterday.

YellowBelly will operate a full-service restaurant, and Newfoundland Chocolate Company will operate a café and retail outlet. This makes YellowBelly the first ever full-service restaurant in YYT’s Departures Lounge. That’s hard to believe for an airport in a capital city.

“We are delighted to have both of these strong brands represented at our Airport, providing passengers with tastes of Newfoundland and Labrador. Both brands are well-known for their quality offerings and will facilitate a sense of place at our Airport,” said Marie Manning, Director of Marketing and Business Development.

YellowBelly’s space will seat approximately 120 customers, with a menu and craft beer selection similar to their downtown location.

“We are pleased that the Airport Authority has chosen to support local businesses as anchor tenants,” said Craig Flynn, Owner of YellowBelly Brewery. “YellowBelly will create a warm and inviting atmosphere, and we look forward to bringing our great food, service, and craft beer to the Airport community.”

Newfoundland Chocolate Company has grown from a husband and wife team in 2008, to a full on local force with multiple shops and cafés located in Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia. They will operate both a café and retail shop, featuring coffees, panini sandwiches, and chocolates.

“Our combined chocolate shop and chocolate café will deliver not only the delicious Newfoundland boxed chocolates, bars, truffles and seasonal favorites that our customers love, but will also bring our unique chocolate café offerings to YYT passengers,” said Brent Smith, Owner and Chief Chocolate Officer with Newfoundland Chocolate Company. “These offerings include our fresh, locally roasted coffee, home-made bakery treats, and delicious grab and go meals.”

This announcement is just the beginning of the overdue overhaul of YYT’s Departures’ Lounge. Eleven more food and drink or retail vendors will round out the new space. It’s safe to say airport workers hope a better departures lounge will put an end to so many late locals arriving last minute because, historically, there’s nothing to do post-security.

The change will come in 3 steps. Step one is to open 3 food & drink and 3 retail outlets in the summer of 2018, and step 2 is to reach 5 of each by the end of 2018. By the end of the renovations, the entire second floor will be a concession space.

What gets into these concession spaces will be the product of both a competitive bid process and the results of over 1200 surveys completed by passengers, employees, the general public, and frequent travelers to and from the airport. Those surveys revealed a desire for a mix of local and national brands, and a balance of healthy food options and fast food chains.