(December 8, 2016) When Perry Kranias was in middle school, he and his parents moved from Chicago to the Tampa Bay area, where he helped them run family diner-style Greek restaurants for several years.
“I like to say I was born in a booth,” Kranias said.
After his family sold the last one in St. Petersburg 16 years ago, he began looking for new opportunities and spotted a job posting for a concessions manager position at Tampa International Airport with HMSHost.
“I just thought, ‘How cool would that be to work at the airport?’” Kranias said.
He found his new career managing Starbucks, Chili’s and other restaurants at TPA to not only be cool, but an incredible experience learning about the high volume service, passenger patterns and other interesting facets of airport concessions. Likewise, the fresh perspective he brought coming from small family-owned restaurants helped create a grassroots program that now benefits communities throughout North America.
While working his way up from assistant manager of Starbucks to managing multiple TPA restaurants to becoming HMSHost’s TPA director of operations, Kranias became more and more troubled at the close of every business day.
“All of our leftover packaged food and grab-and-go items were being thrown away,” Kranias said. “And there was a lot of it.”
Kranias contacted HMSHost’s corporate headquarters to see if something could be done to preserve the food for needy or hungry families but the company had concerns about liability with serving repurposed food. Kranias did more research into how other restaurants companies donated food and discovered President Bill Clinton’s Good Samaritan Food Donation Act which protects restaurants and caterers from criminal and civil liability when donating to food banks in good faith.
He got the green light from headquarters, and together with his team, launched a food donation partnership in 2010 with Feeding America, which sent a truck to check out what TPA had to offer. After seeing the surplus of fresh, high-quality food they were able to deliver the first week, Feeding America decided to send a truck every day.
The program was so successful, HMSHost expanded it globally. Now, airports throughout North America as well as HMSHost’s motorway operations take part in a food donation program, feeding schoolchildren and families throughout the country. All of TPA’s new concessions that served food were required to include a similar program as part of their proposals in the redevelopment.
HMSHost was recently honored with a 2016 Airports Going Green Award for its commitment to sustainability via food donations. Last year alone, more than 1.6 million pounds of food were diverted from landfills throughout the U.S. and Canada. And it all started at TPA.
“It’s something I’m very proud of,” Kranias said. “My kids know about it and every once in a while I’ll talk to someone who works at a food bank or gives food to the needy in the community and I get to tell them about the food that comes from the Airport.”
These days, Kranias is working hard to help launch of many of HMSHost’s new concessions, including P.F. Chang’s, The Gasparilla Bar, Starbucks Evenings and other upcoming local concepts throughout Airport.
“I’m learning a whole different side of things with the construction of new restaurants,” Kranias said. “And I’m getting to work with some of the most brilliant entrepreneurs in the business with the Gonzmart family [Goody Goody, Ulele and Columbia Restaurant], Joey Redner [Cigar City Brewing and Taproom] and, of course, longtime TPA concessionaire George Tinsley.”
Kranias lives in Westchase and spends most of his free time with his children, 13-year-old Alex and 12-year-old Christina. The two play competitive soccer, which keeps Kranias – who played soccer himself growing up and has coached their youth teams in the past – plenty busy on weeknights and weekends. They also like to go on a cruise every summer.
Kranias said he’s excited about all of the changes at TPA and especially the idea of working with so many new partners and employees as the concessions redevelopment takes shape. He hopes all of the new fresh and healthy options for passengers will bring even more benefit to the hungry children and families throughout the Tampa Bay area.