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RDU airport opens 'virtual food hall'

RDU Foodhall
Bradley George
Raleigh-Durham International Airport's virtual food hall situated in terminal 2.

Nine restaurant concepts will share a single kitchen at Raleigh-Durham International Airport. The goal is to offer passengers more food choices in less time.

From the outside, the getREEF virtual food hall looks a bit like an Amazon locker. You place an order on a touch screen, pay and then a few minutes later grab your food from a bright blue cabinet.

Alan Philips is chief creative officer for REEF, the company behind the project.

"We have nine concepts. But if we want, we could have 12," Phillips said. "Or we could switch out a lunch concept for a dinner concept."

Its rollout comes as all kinds of restaurants and retail stores struggle to find workers. Meanwhile, airports are trying new things to cater to pandemic-weary flyers, like delivering food to a passenger's gate. REEF will offer that service at RDU in the coming months.

"The pandemic forced people to look at things differently," Phillips said. "And if you just look at the model we're implementing here, it's better for everybody."

Bradley George is WUNC's AM reporter. A North Carolina native, his public radio career has taken him to Atlanta, Birmingham, Nashville and most recently WUSF in Tampa. While there, he reported on the COVID-19 pandemic and was part of the station's Murrow award winning coverage of the 2020 election. Along the way, he has reported for NPR, Marketplace, The Takeaway, and the BBC World Service. Bradley is a graduate of Guilford College, where he majored in Theatre and German.
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