Food

Food and beverage service flies high at new Chase Sapphire Lounges in 2 NYC airports

Partnerships with restaurants, chefs and mixologists elevate the club experience for travelers at LaGuardia and JFK.
The club interior
The new Chase Sapphire Lounge at LaGuardia Airport boasts two levels of dining options, a bar with signature cocktails and plenty of pampering. | Photo courtesy of Chase Sapphire Club.

The newest Chase Sapphire Lounge by The Club opens at New York City’s LaGuardia Airport Tuesday, with a second location coming to JFK Airport on Jan. 23. Both are exclusive to Chase Sapphire Reserve cardmembers.

Visitors expecting breakfast pastries, cheese and crackers will surely be blown away. The two-story lounge at LaGuardia offers elevated meal and bar service, created through partnerships with celebrated restaurants, chefs and mixologists.

For the all-day menu, served from 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Chase teamed up with Joseph Leonard, a popular Manhattan bistro, to develop a number of made-to-order items. This extensive small plates menu is rounded out by chef-driven dishes from Sodexo Live!, the foodservice contractor also responsible for most of the breakfast menu, served from 4:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m.

Sodexo Live! also manages the back-of-house. “We worked closely with the chefs from Happy Cooking Hospitality [parent company of Joseph Leonard] to make sure we could translate and execute their menu items,” said Scott Geller, Sodexo Live’s culinary director for the LaGuardia lounge.

“We hesitated to do an airport lounge before, but this one has great equipment and a trained staff,” said Patrick McGrath, executive chef at Joseph Leonard. The state-of-the art kitchen is all electric and he and the Happy Cooking team trained the back-of-house to prep and cook all his restaurant’s dishes.

The Joseph Leonard menu items are a mix of classics and adaptations. Brussels Sprout Hash on the breakfast menu, for example, is an iteration of the restaurant’s signature Brussels sprouts, shaved and combined with crispy diced potatoes, sauteed with bacon and onions and topped with poached eggs and a little hot sauce. On the all-day menu, Lentil Ragout, Seared Salmon, Salt Cod Brandade and Kale Salad with toasted farro, smashed avocado and pickled peppers are all close to the originals but downsized into small plates.

 seared salmon

Seared salmon over braised leeks, finished with creme fraiche and herbs, is a Joseph Leonard specialty. | Photo by Pat Cobe.

The menu gives people a chance to eat Joseph Leonard’s food in a different setting, said McGrath—perhaps prompting them to visit the restaurant in the future.

Sodexo Live! chefs developed the bulk of the menus, which include a large selection of made-to-order and ready-to-eat cold and hot small plates. “Our goal was to make most of the dishes vegetable-forward and allergen-friendly,” said Geller. “For the Pesto Burrata, for example, we prepare nut-free basil pesto, and the Overnight Oats at breakfast are gluten-free.”

This is the fourth Chase Sapphire Lounge menu Sodexo Live! has developed, and two choices—the Sapphire Burger and Sapphire Noodles with smoked tofu and shiitake mushrooms—are core items at the clubs in Boston, Austin, Texas, and Hong Kong. But everything else on the scratch-made menu is exclusive to the LaGuardia lounge. 

Pumpkin dip

Sodexo Live! focused on vegetable-forward small plates, like this Pumpkin Muhammara, a smoky Middle Eastern dip served with pita chips. | Photo by Pat Cobe.

The variety is impressive, covering global dishes like Pumpkin Muhammara with smoked paprika and pita chips to Korean fried chicken bites with ponzu glaze, and an all-American Grilled Cheese Melt made on brioche, with cheddar, pistachio and honey.

The beverage menu includes locally inspired cocktails crafted by Apotheke, a trendsetting bar based in New York City. These include the Crosswind (a mix of vodka, matcha, Lillet, champagne and fruit flavors); the Red Eye (a riff on an espresso martini) and The Blackburn’s Sour—all exclusive to the Chase lounge at LaGuardia.

cocktails

The Blackburn's Sour (center). a cocktail steeped in history, is one of the drinks created by Apotheke. On the right is the lounge's signature Sapphire. | Photo by Pat Cobe.

“The Blackburn’s Sour is named after the first passenger to land at LaGuardia airport,” said Nicolas O’Connor, beverage director for Apotheke. “There was also a Captain Blackburn who was one of the early pilots, so the drink has a colorful history.” The cocktail is a mix of two types of rum, blackberry, raspberry, acai, ginger and lime with pea shoots for garnish.

Apotheke also developed the Sapphire cocktail, a signature at all the Sapphire lounges. The drink gets its blue hue from blueberry mixed with vodka and Asian flavors, dusted with bee pollen and pearl dust.

The drinks list is rounded out with the vodka-based Bloodhound, mezcal-forward La Puerta and bourbon Viaggiare. Plus, there’s a full wine list curated by Parcelle, a New York City wine bar.

caviar service

Jeffrey's Grocery caviar service presented by a dedicated attendant is one of the perks in the Reserve Suites by Chase. | Photo by Pat Cobe.

The upper level of the space—a.k.a. “The Perch”—is designed with private bookable rooms and dedicated attendants. The LaGuardia lounge is the first to offer these Reserve Suites by Chase, where travelers can order caviar service and menu items from Jeffrey’s Grocery, another Happy Cooking restaurant. Hyde Park Hospitality is the Chicago-based partner for all front-of-house staffing and management.  

For travelers who may not be hungry or thirsty, the lounge offers several wellness rooms with amenities that include facials and meditation. Also on the premises is a kids’ playroom and game room with a retro jukebox and pinball machine.

The Chase Sapphire Lounges are located post-security in Terminal B at LaGuardia and in Terminal 5 at JFK International airports.

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.

Multimedia

Exclusive Content

Workforce

Restaurants have a hot opportunity to improve their reputation as employers

Reality Check: New mandates for protecting workers from dangerous on-the-job heat are about to be dropped on restaurants and other employers. The industry could greatly help its labor plight by acting first.

Financing

Some McDonald's customers are doubling up on the discounts

The Bottom Line: In some markets, customers can get the fast-food chain's $5 value meal for $4. The situation illustrates a key rule in the restaurant business: Customers are savvy and will find loopholes.

Financing

Ignore the Red Lobster problem. Sale-leasebacks are not all that bad

The decade-old sale-leaseback at the seafood chain has raised questions about the practice. But experts say it remains a legitimate financing option for operators when done correctly.

Trending

More from our partners