Starbucks is getting dumped for Dunkin’ Donuts along Florida’s Turnpike.
What could have turned into a politically charged and prolonged legal battle fizzled out last week when two teams vying for a 30-year contract to rebuild and operate the eight concession plazas along the turnpike dropped their plans to protest the winning bidder.
Food concessionaire Areas USA, the Miami operation of a Spain-based company, will take over the service plazas when incumbent company Host International Inc.’s contract expires in June.
Martin Petroleum, the current operator of gas stations on the turnpike, partnered with Areas and will continue to be the fuel provider, though it will replace Citgo gas with Shell.
Host, along with International Meal Co., filed notices with the state that they intended to appeal the selection of Areas with arguments that they were better suited to manage the contract, valued at as much as $7.7 billion over 30 years, and would have provided a higher rate of return to the state.
Among their complaints was that the state reviewed thousands of pages of proposal documents from the four bidding teams but did not conduct interviews.
An appeal would have been a costly gamble because along with attorneys’ fees, the state would have required a bond of more than $1 million.
Bertica Cabrera Morris, the lobbyist for International Meal Co., said the team’s decision not to protest Areas’ win was ultimately a “business decision.”
Fred Leonhardt, who represented Host, declined to comment.