Local cafe beats out chains for airport spot

Posted at 7:11 PM, Jan 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-20 22:23:42-05

Lindbergh Field's new, massive rental car center opened Wednesday, and an unlikely local business has earned a spot in the middle of it all.

At first glance, the airport's rental car center could be anywhere USA. However, an unassuming bagel shop out front changes everything.

"I think that's what makes our location and our space so unique," said Kristee Gilbert, owner of BCB Cafe, or Big City Bagels.

Gilbert and her business partner, Jennifer Reynolds, both of Coronado, fought for the spot, which is their third location.

"We did interview and compete against the big guys," Gilbert said.

Those big guys, Subway and Dunkin Donuts, will have to open somewhere else. Now, Big City Bagels hopes to go big-time in a location travelers can't miss. It's just steps from the terminal shuttle stop, so it could be their first, or last, taste of San Diego.

"Cafe Moto, Bread and Cie, our cafe in Hillcrest, that's where all of our food comes from," Gilbert said.

A spokeswoman for the San Diego Airport Authority said the agency is trying to support local businesses. In fact, more than half of construction costs for the $316 million center were spent locally.

On peak days, the center will rent and return 11,000 cars. That could mean many orders for bagels, brownies or coffee.

"It's convenient," said customer Andrea Glavez. "Come outside, or on your way from the airport, or on your way to the airport, you grab your latte or something fresh."

Gilbert said Big City Bagels could become a traveler's first impression of America's Finest City.

"When people get off the bus in San Diego, they're looking at BCB Cafe," she said.