Catching a dining experience at Wings will no longer mean hunting a rerun of the old NBC television show.
At Wings Airport Cafe, diners can be seated at the counter or tables and have a meal within view of planes and the runway at the Brainerd-Crow Wing County Regional Airport.
The cafe and its main kitchen equipment is owned by the airport commission and space is leased to an operator.
In January, Kevin Reinke, Bonanza owner, took over the lease from long-time operator Phil Riley. Reinke said the old pilots used to refer to the cafe as Wings so the name change was a natural.
An airport cafe is not that common of an item in smaller, regional airports in the state. A small lunch counter is in Grand Rapids, but there are few other options.
For pilots taking small airplanes out on a bright sunny afternoon, the cafe has been a reason to touch down.
"It's a big asset to the airport, particularly the airport community," said Steve Sievek, airport manager.
Sievek said an airport renovation project in 1996 helped. The airport cafe, pilot's lounge, weather information and airport manager's office were all housed in the aviation building, which was connected to the main terminal building by an open walkway.
The renovation project connected the two buildings with an enclosed corridor.
Small plane traffic provided the cafe's main customer base along with lunch regulars. The corridor was expected to help bring passengers to the cafe. Now Reinke said his plans are to create greater visibility for Wings.
"When you are outside the circle of aviation, it's a best kept secret," Reinke said.
Reinke said the airport cafe has been around a long time, but ask someone on the street and chances are they do not know it exists. Reinke said many of his friends thought the cafe was private and strictly used by the airline and small plane pilots and passengers.
"I just think there is a lot of potential," he said. "It's a nice, cute, warm and friendly atmosphere."
Reinke said the airport cafe is likely to provide an activity for him after he retires from Bonanza. Reinke managed Bonanza for 17 years before he and his wife bought the restaurant seven years ago. He said the small, relaxed and personal nature of the cafe is appealing.
The cafe seats 56. Reinke said meals are reasonably priced with everything less than $5. Plans are to add several tall tables and high seats in an open area where the corridor from the main terminal building first enters the cafe area.
Wings offers daily specials and a full menu, which Reinke said will be expanded. Wings is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. And Reinke said hours can be added as the airline increases flights.
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