BR Metropolitan Airport getting WOW, PJ’s

A WOW Café and PJ’s Coffee shop are set to open in Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport in April.

The café and coffee shop are going into the existing restaurant space on the secure side of the airport, left of the new rotunda, said Jim Caldwell, a spokesman for the airport.

SSP America, which handles the food in Baton Rouge Metro, reached an agreement to bring in WOW and PJ’s.

“We encouraged SSP to have more variety on the menu and a regional flair, and they responded to that,” Caldwell said.

Ryan Stansbury, franchise development director for Ballard Brands LLC, the Covington company that has WOW and PJ’s in its portfolio, said the joint venture was reached after about a year of talks with SSP. “Historically, getting brands into airports gets a lot of great exposure,” Stansbury said. “We’re really excited about this.”

WOW specializes in chicken wings, hamburgers, wraps and other casual American dining staples. This will be the second airport location for the chain; the company is in Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans. PJ’s has more than 55 locations across south Louisiana.

Ballard Brands will spend “more than $500,000” renovating the nearly 3,000-square-foot restaurant space for WOW and PJ’s, Stansbury said. The plan is to have a WOW Café, complete with a full bar, along with some premade items for travelers to pick up and eat on the run. A full-service PJ’s will be in the restaurant.

About 30 people will work in the café/coffee shop.

Getting the coffee shop fills a niche at the airport, Caldwell said.

“Before, you could only buy regular coffee at the restaurant,” he said. “Now, people will be able to buy an assortment of lattes and other drinks.”

Once the restaurant is completed, Ballard plans to build a PJ’s Café on the first floor of the airport. The café will offer a full line of coffee and related beverages, along with a limited alcohol selection, pastries and light lunch items.

“We want to get the main restaurant up and running first before we start on the downstairs,” Stansbury said.

Ballard Brands is close to selecting a contractor and plans to start renovating the upstairs restaurant space later this month, Stansbury said. Work will be done in stages to avoid shutting down the entire restaurant, and a grab-and-go kiosk will be set up so SSP can continue to offer food in the space.

“We want to offer as much food and beverage as we can while everything is under construction,” he said.