Alfonso Chardy of the Miami Herald reports that after operating service plazas on Florida’s Turnpike since the 1980s, HMSHost will turn over business to a Miami-based subsidiary of a Spanish multinational.

After years of sipping cappuccinos at Starbucks and wolfing Whoppers at Burger King, travelers on Florida’s Turnpike will be dunking Dunkin’ Donuts and pounding Cheeburger Cheeburgers at service plazas along the toll road.

Areas USA, a Miami-based subsidiary of the Spanish Areas S.A., this week takes over a 30-year contract to manage turnpike plazas from Okahumpka in north-central Florida to Snapper Creek in South Miami-Dade.

This is the first change of service plaza management in two decades, since HMSHost secured the turnpike contract in the late 1980s.

Areas USA, a highway and airport food and retail service provider, expects to invest more than $180 million in renovations and sales exceeding $4.5 billion over the length of the contract, company officials said.

HMSHost confirmed it lost the contract to Areas USA and thanked the more than 775 employees at service plazas for their services. Turnpike officials said they preferred to release information Wednesday at separate news events at the Pompano and Turkey Lake service plazas.

While Areas USA will take over the plazas, and familiar concessions like Starbucks and Burger King will be gone, the changeover to new outlets and renovation of plazas will be gradual.

Xavier Rabell, Areas USA chief executive officer, told The Miami Herald that renovation will not begin until 2010. Nevertheless, motorists stopping at the plazas will notice immediate changes with temporary locations for new concessions at all eight plazas that span the length of the road from Wildwood to Florida City.

New vendors include Vicky Bakery, a Hialeah-based bakery, Checkers, KFC, Taco Bell, Nature’s Table, Chicken Kitchen, Villa Pizza, Earl of Sandwich and Panda Express — among others.

”It’s a significant, important change,” Rabell said.

Though the company manages highway service plazas in other countries, this is the first time it will manage service plazas on a U.S. highway.

Areas also manages retail and food outlet sites at various major airports in the United States, including terminals at Miami International, Orlando International, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International and Boston Logan International.

Miami Herald