Halibut Henry's ready to expand at Bellingham airport

When Halibut Henry’s first opened in the Bellingham International Airport in 1999, the air-travel facility looked nothing like it does today.

But now inside an airport with more than half a million travelers passing through annually and a three-year commercial terminal build-out nearing the end of its final phase, the cafe and gift shop is set for a sizable expansion.

The Port of Bellingham Commission approved a new five-year lease for Hailbut Henry’s during its May 7 meeting, which will give the business a larger, fixed space in the secure gate lobby of the airport’s terminal. It will replace a temporary booth Halibut Henry’s has been operating in the secure side of the airport.

“It will be a far cry from what we’ve had for the past 11 years,” said owner Vicki Rogers.

Halibut Henry’s also runs a separate shop in the main terminal area of the airport, selling a variety of food, drinks and gifts. That shop will continue its operation.

Rogers said the gate-lobby location will focus on easy, “grab and go” options for customers waiting to catch flights. She added that Halibut Henry’s sandwiches and other food items will be made fresh daily.

The retail side location, which will be nearly 130 square feet in size, will also sell espresso, juices and other items. The retail space will include several coolers, but no seating.

The remaining 690 square feet of the leased space will be used to consolidate Halibut Henry’s behind-the-scenes operations at the airport, including office, storage and food-preparation functions.

Rogers said the newly consolidated space could be ready to open by August of this year.

Halibut Henry’s will complete tenant improvements on the retail side of the new space at its own cost. Rogers anticipates investing up to $100,000 in remodeling costs. The port will handle basic improvements to the back-area space, which is expected to cost about $87,000, said port engineer Adam Fulton.

Along with its airport expansion, Halibut Henry’s also recently re-opened its cafe at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal. It provides food service there seven days per week.

Rogers also owns and operates the cruise terminal’s gift shop, Inside Passage.

All together, her Bellingham businesses employ more than 30 people.

Evan Marczynski, lead reporter for The Bellingham Business Journal, can be reached at 360-647-8805, Ext. 5052, or evan@bbjtoday.com

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