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Recognizing 100 CEOs & C-level Executives

Milan Patel


OHM Concession Group

Location: St. Louis, MO

Founded: 1998

Industry: Hospitality

Milan Patel says he doesn’t consider his employees to be employees. Rather, they are like family, he said. He knows them all by name, and he makes himself accessible to them.

“That is important and shows you care for them,” he said. “If you treat people well, they will give you twofold in their efforts. I care for them, and I value their thought process. I want to enhance their lives along with ours. I like being the underdog because the underdog gets underestimated. We went head-to-head with the big companies and came out as winner.”

Patel is CEO of OHM Concession Group, which provides food and beverage concessions in airports. Patel embraces the underdog role, competing for business with companies 10 to 15 times larger than OHM. “We did it because as a leader I always tell my team if they could do it, why not us?” Patel said.

Patel got his start in the business shortly after high school. He began as a cashier working for his father and his uncle at one of their stores, Great American Bagel, in an airport. After three years, Patel moved up to manager. He helped expand from one to three stores and then three to eight and eventually more.

From 1998 to 2008, the company had stores only in St. Louis. In 2009, it expanded to Baltimore. In 2011, Patel bought out his father and uncle and over a few years expanded the business to airports in Pensacola, Washington, D.C., and Boston. When COVID-19 hit, travel was halted and Patel’s company lost 90% of its business. He quickly adjusted, though, and ramped up expansion after travel resumed, adding Kansas City, Salt Lake City and Nashville to the company’s footprint.

“My vision for the company is for us to be the absolute best concessionaire operator in an airport,” Patel said. “Not just to provide food and beverage to customers, but to provide a unique and authentic experience. We’re providing space for people. We are transforming airport dining by creating a sense of place which brings the culinary aspects of the local city into the airport. We are creating districts within the airport that feel like cities.”

OHM was nominated by Airport Experience News as best ACDB operator in 2016 and won the award in 2018. OHM is a sponsor of the USO and provides meals to soldiers.

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Did you know?

When we do new openings and have worked long hours, I tend to get charged up and am silly because of the adrenaline. My team finds this quite humorous.


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