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Black concessions owner encourages career in airports

Lawson Brothers CEO climbs the ranks from airport employee to owner

One Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) minority airport concessions operator understands the importance of working his way up in the airport and is encouraging other employees to follow his path.  

Jonathan Lawson, CEO and President of Lawson Brothers, began working in airports after graduating from college and felt it was very important to learn all the roles at a restaurant before pursuing his dream of owning his own company.   

Lawson always aspired to be an entrepreneur but wasn’t sure what direction his dream would take him. While attending Morehouse College, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in Atlanta, he was introduced to Jackmont Hospitality, a minority-owned, Atlanta-based airport foodservice concessions operator. He began his career in the airport hospitality industry and never looked back.  

“Being introduced to the airport is one of the best things that happened to me,” Lawson said. “ It is a challenging industry but very rewarding. I encourage anyone thinking of pursuing a career at the airport to do it. Many business owners started as an employee before working their way up and this business community is always willing to help.”   

Upon graduation, he joined Jackmont’s Management Training program. During the three-year program he worked nearly every position from server and food prep to host and front-of-house manager. Lawson went on to be the front-of-house manager at LAX Terminal 2’s Slapfish. During this same time, he and his brother, Michael Lawson, Jr, were working to start Lawson Brothers, LLC.  

Maral Matossian, URW Airports General Manager, LAX, said Jonathan is a great example of someone who leveraged his deep knowledge of airport hospitality to start his own 100% minority, black-owned business.  

“Jonathan has worked his way up airport concessions and today he’s an owner who’s committed to supporting the next generation of leaders,” Matossian said. “Working with Lawson Brothers, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), and Airport Minority Advisory Council (AMAC), we are dedicated to helping more concessions employees follow this path by offering resources and helping to build capacity among our employee community. We’re proud of Jonathan’s success and thrilled to have him as one of our LAX partners.” 

A certified Airport Concessions Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (ACDBE) business, Lawson Brothers’ LAX portfolio includes JV partnerships operating dining locations in Terminals 2, 6, and Tom Bradley International Terminal. 

Lawson, an AMAC member, strongly believes that becoming an ACDBE business, a certification he pursued upon forming his company, has helped him achieve his goals.  

“It is important to me, as an entrepreneur and a person of color, to have earned ACDBE certification,” Lawson said. “The program provides an avenue to help minority and women-owned businesses compete in the very complex and historically insular airport industry.” 

Lawson Brothers plans to continue its expansion in airports.

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