Bobby Van’s JFK Priority Pass restaurant: worth a visit

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Bobby Van’s at JFK’s Terminal 8 is a Priority Pass restaurant. That means that Priority Pass members can present their card and receive $28 per person towards food & drinks. This morning, Greg wrote about some Citi Prestige hidden benefits (see: Citi Prestige: Weird but valuable benefits); one of the not-so-hidden benefits of premium cards like the Prestige is Priority Pass access, which typically includes guest privileges on premium cards like the Prestige. I recently flew out of Terminal 8 on Cathay Pacific, and I arrived at the airport early specifically to check out Bobby Van’s. Truth be told, I wasn’t that hungry when I stopped at the restaurant, but after Cathay Pacific ran out of my meal selection at the first meal time and I slept through the second meal, I was glad that I had eaten at Bobby Van’s before boarding my flight! If you’re flying out of Terminal 8, I’d say Bobby Van’s is definitely worth a visit.

The Restaurant

First of all, the restaurant doesn’t look that big from the entrance. It kind of looks like it is just a barroom on a raised platform as you only see the front seating area and front of the bar from the entrance. However, when you come inside along the side of the bar, you’ll find that there is an entire back seating area that was empty when I arrived around 8:30pm (as shown above). One of the advantages of a lounge is its quiet atmosphere. With a Priority Pass restaurant, you are theoretically giving up that atmosphere in exchange for an actual meal.

In my case, I got the best of both worlds. While the front section of Bobby Van’s was quite full and noisy, the back section was silent – and that’s where I got seated. I definitely had both a full restaurant menu and a quiet place to work. As Bobby Van’s is located almost immediately after security in Terminal 8, I think it was also somewhat separated from the hustle and bustle of the terminal since it is located away from the gates.

Access

Many cards in addition to the aforementioned Prestige card come with free Priority Pass membership that also includes free guest privileges. Here are a few cards that give a Priority Pass membership that allows at least one free guest:

The Food

I just ordered a burger, but it was large and filling and came as ordered (medium, despite the fact that it looks pretty well done in the picture). The fries were crispy, hot, and fresh.

If you are looking to stay under $28, there are plenty of options on the appetizers / salads / sandwiches menu.

You might make out even better at breakfast time as Bobby Van’s has a pretty extensive breakfast menu, with nothing more expensive than the $28 credit you’ll receive and most dishes cheap enough that you might even be able to get two items. If you’re traveling with someone else and you have a Priority Pass membership that allows a free guest, I’d imagine that $56 total will get you more than enough food for breakfast.

The Drinks

If you’re going to want a glass of wine or a cocktail with dinner, you’re going to end up paying a few bucks most likely as your $28 credit probably won’t cover both food and alcoholic drink — though still not bad all things considered. Here were the wine and cocktail menus during my visit.

Drinks certainly aren’t cheap….but then again, if you’re on a Priority Pass visit and you’re just looking for a cocktail or two, it’s still not a bad deal.

Bottom line

I’m a fan of the expanded Priority Pass restaurant options as they provide an option for a full meal prior to takeoff. I also visited an Admirals Club before my flight (as I was flying business class on Cathay Pacific), but I was glad to have had the option to stop at a restaurant before my flight. Little did I know that I wasn’t going to eat much again until breakfast 12 or 13+ hours later due to a mixture of bad luck (running out of my meal choice) and sleep (slept through the second meal service). It might have been a pretty hungry flight if not for the fact that I had eaten at Bobby Van’s, so I was glad to have visited and I would definitely stop in again on a future trip through Terminal 8.

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[…] saves me real dollars and cents. And sometimes it is particularly handy – a few months ago I ate at Bobby Van’s at JFK and was glad I had when the airline ran out of the only entree I cared to […]

TJ at The Art of Travel Hacking

thanks for great review, also flying cathay for the first time next month from JFK, will have to stop at Bobby Vans. the burger looks good but you should have added bacon too:-)

brian

Stack of pancakes for 9/11 seems insensitive to me. /s

fll

We were there 2 weeks ago when we flew MXP-JFK-MIA. We did not go in the back room as we only had just over an hour to our boarding time. The outside bar area looks quite cramp. When we arrived at about 1:45pm it was half empty but by the time we lest it was almost full.

The seating for guest was SLOW even the restaurant was not busy. When after 10 min there was still no server to come, I had to get up and talked to the host to find a server as we really did not have much time to waste.
Server came and he was a cheerful older guy and he quickly set up the table and brought us menu. We ordered the Cobb salad and Harry Salad. The dishes were huge, especially the Cobb salad – it can easily feed 2 people and still have some left, I am not kidding. We also ordered a beer on tap. The final bill incl taxes was just over $48. 0 balance due. I dont know if the waiter gets the difference but we left $5 cash as tip.

I know at the Corona Beach House at MIA, it is specified that there is an 18% tip added to the bill and it can come out of the PP allowance which is $30 pp when it first joined the program a few months ago.

For the poster asked for “a friend” about whether one can use 5 PP cards for a single visit of the SAME person, the answer is NO. Also this restaurant limits 2 PP guests per visit, regardless how many cards you produced as stated on PP website when it first became available. No idea how the policy is now.

As for Nick’s meal fiasco, CX is subpar in its meal services not just in J but also in F. To ensure you have your meal choice, next time try to pre-emptive tell the FA what you want once you received the menu. Also you can ask them to save you the second meal if you are asleep and ask them to wake you up /x hrs before landing so you can eat your saved meal. They will oblige your request.

fll

It is not “let you”, it is the structure of PP perk at Corona Beach House, because their 18% tip automatically shows up on their bill regardless how you pay for it, with a sentence that the customer can ask to have it removed. Turns out to remove it is a monumental task and could not be done at all. We found out this during the first few weeks it was added to PP.
The 18% is NOT coded as purchase of F&B.
Subsequently PP and the restaurant must have modified their contract and now the 18% is mandatory, and can be covered by the PP allowance. IIRC it is even stated on PP site of this set up last time I looked a few months ago.
I dont know if the language stays the same now, but Yes, I have seen the language on PP site mentioning about the 18% being Mandatory and can be included in the PP allowance.

Also note the language on PP site is different between Bobby Van’s and Corona Beach House.
It specifically said the remaining unused amount cannot be used for gratuity at Bobby Van’s while it is SILENT on Corona Beach House where it also stated 18% gratuity automatically added to the bill.
The 18% mandatory tip at Corona Beach House is a rip off because the service is nonexistent on each of our visits. They did not even want to bring a glass for beer, and eventually very reluctantly brought a water glass, not a properly chilled beer glass when we insisted. And they had a bar with bar tender no more than 10 feet away.

fll

Note the language on PP site regarding Corona Beach House at MIA
Basically the $30 per person allowance is treated as a deduction from your bill.
18% gratuity is mandatory added to the bill.
Bottom line, it is just a Dollar Amount deducted from your bill’s final total. So yes, you can work in the tip to the allowance.
The service and the foods are decidedly at lower level comparing to Bobby Van’s.
We asked about using the take out items on our first visit and were turned down. However I have read it somewhere that people were able to do the grab and go. Same 18% but no need to endure the very slow and very mediocre services. Each time they did not take off the PP allowance at any of our visits, but they were all last year during the first 6 months they came on board. They should have put their acts together by now after joining close to a year or actually more.

Conditions
1. Cardholders can use their lounge visit entitlement to receive US$30 off the bill. Each US$30 deduction represents a single lounge visit within the Cardholder’s existing lounge visit allocation for which the Cardholder will, where applicable, be charged. E.g. if a Cardholder registers 1 Guest they will receive US$60 off their bill which will be charged as 1 Cardholder visit + 1 Guest visit on their account. Only 1 card per visit per Cardholder will be accepted and at point of registration.
Additional Information
2. The US$30 is valid for the purchase of any meal and/or drinks. To be eligible, Cardholders must present a valid card before placing an order. 3. US$30 is non-transferable & cannot be exchanged for cash substitute or refund if the final bill is lower than US$30 per person. 4. Cardholder is responsible for the balance if total final bill exceeds

Treesha

Thanks for the writeup and the menus. Will be there next week, and look forward to trying it out.

Dan @ Pointswithacrew.com

I tried to go there when flying JFK-LHR but it was in a snowstorm and their systems couldn’t talk to Priority pass so they weren’t accepting PP. I was bummed 🙁

Adam

Can you enjoy $28*5 free food if you have five Priority Pass cards? Asking for, uh, a friend.

Hungry

Can you tip up to the full $28? I can see there being times where I’ll end up with a $20 or less check and would love to leave the rest to the server.