Press Releases

Aug 16, 2023

Global Restaurateur HMSHost Opens Second Southern Grounds Coffee House at Jacksonville International Airport

Located Pre-Security, New Restaurant Boasts Expanded All-day Menu, Full Bar Featuring Craft Cocktails, and Treats from Local Blueberry Artisan Bakery

BETHESDA, Maryland (Aug. 16, 2023) – Global restaurateur HMSHost, a world leader in creating dining for travel venues, celebrated the opening of its second Southern Grounds café at Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) today. Located pre-security, the new location of the modern, chef-driven coffee house offers visitors to JAX an expanded menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, a full bar featuring craft cocktails, and sweet treats from Jacksonville-based Blueberry Artisan Bakery.

“Airports have an opportunity to highlight the local food and beverage experiences that best represent their communities,” Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA) CEO Mark VanLoh said. “As a beloved coffee house with several locations throughout Jacksonville, Southern Grounds is a perfect fit for our terminal.”

Open from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, the pre-security Southern Grounds offers the fresh-roasted Intelligentsia coffee and espresso-based beverages fans have come to know and love, along with a new selection of pastries from Blueberry Artisan Bakery, like flourless hazelnut bites and a gluten-free, vegan chocolate cake. The expanded all-day menu boasts everything from benedicts and burgers to salads, sandwiches, pitas, and tacos ― providing guests plenty of options to satisfy whatever they are craving. And true to the mission of Southern Grounds, the menu focuses on sustainable, locally sourced ingredients with delicious dishes to suit multiple dietary preferences, including health-forward, gluten-free, and vegetarian.

Additionally, for the first time, visitors to Southern Grounds can enjoy an expertly crafted cocktail pre-flight or upon their arrival in Jacksonville, like an expresso martini made with Southern Grounds’ espresso, Wheatley vodka, Caffè Borghetti espresso liqueur, Reàl vanilla, and espresso beans, or a Sparkling Guava Marg made with Don Julio Blanco tequila, Reàl guava, Fever-Tree sparkling pink grapefruit soda, and lime juice. HMSHost developed the new bar program to include a selection of spirits, along with beer and wine.

“Traditionally, being in transit has been the least enjoyable part of travel. With our partnership with HMSHost and JAA, we aim to change that with a sense of community, a sense of place, a great cup of coffee, and a relaxing, customer-centric atmosphere. We aim to connect our community and passengers with a unique and memorable experience along their journey and a place to welcome them back,” said Mark Janasik, owner of Southern Grounds and Blueberry Artisan Bakery. “We are a chef-driven coffee house offering an array of products to conscious consumers that reach beyond the cup, now serving in two locations at JAX. We are very grateful to JAA leadership, Lee Wesley Group, and HMSHost for selecting our brand for this exciting opportunity.”

HMSHost operates both Southern Grounds restaurants at JAX with Florida-based Lee Wesley, an Airport Concessions Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (ACDBE) joint venture partner. The first Southern Grounds opened at JAX in Concourse A in February 2022 as part of a 10-year contract valued at approximately $60 million that JAA awarded to HMSHost and Lee Wesley.

“Since the first Southern Grounds opened in early 2022, it has proven to be an incredibly popular, sought-after dining destination at Jacksonville International Airport for its great coffee and food,” said HMSHost Vice President of Business Development Stephen Douglas. “We are thrilled to partner with the Jacksonville Aviation Authority and Lee Wesley to open a larger, second restaurant so we can bring the unique Southern Grounds experience to all visitors to JAX.”

HMSHost Leading the Industry

HMSHost is recognized by the industry as the leader in travel dining with awards such as Restaurateur with the Highest Regard for Customer Service and Best Brand Restaurateur for Shake Shack by Airport Experience News. USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice Travel Awards gave first place honors to both of HMSHost’s Whisky River locations at Charlotte Douglas International Airport and Raleigh-Durham International Airport. ACI-NA, the trade association representing commercial service airports in the United States and Canada, recognized HMSHost with the 2020 Associate Inclusion Champion Award, for leadership and achievement in the ongoing inclusion of business and workforce diversity, outreach, and advocacy. Additionally, ACI-NA awarded HMSHost the 2022 Excellence in Airport Concessions Award for the Best Employee Recognition Program. The company also creates original award-winning events and campaigns including Airport Restaurant Month, Channel Your Inner Chef live culinary contest, 1,000 Acts of Kindness, and Eat Well. Travel Further.

About the Jacksonville Aviation Authority

The Jacksonville Aviation Authority operates Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) and the city's three general aviation airports - Cecil Airport, Jacksonville Executive at Craig Airport (JAXEX) and Herlong Recreational Airport. The Authority, funded through user fees and not local taxes, contributes over $6 billion annually to the local economy. For more information about the Jacksonville Aviation Authority's airports, please visit

About HMSHost
Global restaurateur HMSHost is a world leader in creating dining for travel venues. HMSHost operates locations all over North America, and is part of Dufry Group (SIX: DUFN –, the leading travel experience player worldwide that uniquely combines retail, food & beverage and digital. The group serves 2.3 billion passengers in more than 75 countries in 5,500 outlets across 1,200 airports, motorways, cruise lines, seaports, railway stations and other locations across six continents. Visit for more information and connect with HMSHost on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.