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Entries : Flying Food Group Inc.
Flying Food Group Inc.

Flying Food Group Inc.

In 1983, real-estate developer, bakery owner, and former Chinese restaurant worker Sue Ling Gin decided to start an airline catering business shortly after eating a particularly unsatisfying breakfast aboard a Midway Airlines flight. She founded Flying Food Group Inc. that same year, and made Midway Airlines her first client. The company's airline kitchen in Midway Airport was soon making 10,000 meals a day for air travelers. In subsequent years, Flying Food opened kitchens in several more airports around the country, including O'Hare, and began focusing on foreign-owned airlines flying internationally. By 2000 Flying Food produced meals for 80 airlines, employed over 2,000 people, and had $125 million in revenues. It had kitchens in nine U.S. airports, and a joint catering venture at Honggiao Airport in Shanghai. The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks devastated the American air travel industry, and the air catering business along with it. While Flying Food's heavy reliance on non-American air carriers helped to insulate it partially from the industry downturn, it nevertheless laid off hundreds of its employees, and sales slumped. Gin quickly diversified Flying Food Group's operations, expanding into gourmet pre-packaged foods that the company sold to grocery stores. By mid-2003, the Chicago-based company had begun to grow back to its pre-9/11 levels, ranking a distant third among the world's largest airline caterers. With about 2,300 employees worldwide—including almost 1,000 in Chicago—and $120 million in revenues, Flying Food Group was one of Chicago's largest minority-owned firms.