Interest shown in airport restaurant

WILLIAMSTOWN – Two women with experience in restaurants are interested in opening the terminal restaurant at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport.

“We do have a couple of individuals interested in the restaurant,” airport Manager Jeff McDougle on Tuesday told the Wood County Airport Authority, the operators of the airport.

“They have been in touch with the owner of the equipment and have been talking to me about taking over the space,” he said.

The unidentified pair are longtime employees of the Omelet Shop in Parkersburg, he said.

“These two women plan to work as a team and I will be working with them in the next week or so,” McDougle said. “They look to be good possible tenants. They are saying all of the right things and seem to know the restaurant business.”

The airport has been without an eatery since Oct. 16 when the last lease holders requested to end the contract and closed the restaurant due to a lack of business.

The equipment is owned by Rodney James, son of longtime restaurateur Mary James, who owned and operated Mary’s Plane View Restaurant for more than 20 years in the terminal.

James retired in September 2012 when her lease ended and Tracy Pettit at the time started her own restaurant there.

James passed away Oct. 29 and, according to her obituary, worked at the airport restaurant for more than 30 years, first as an employee for Helen’s Wood County Airport Restaurant before she purchased the lease and then by herself for more than two decades.

McDougle said the airport has not done anything with the space since it closed, but there are plans to clean the facility.

“While we wait to see what happens, we will paint and put down new carpet, but we need to find out the fate of the equipment before the work is done,” he said.

If the women lease the space, it will be on a 2-year basis and it will be their responsibility to keep the site clean, McDougle said.

Tuesday’s meeting was the authority’s first in 2014.

In other business, the airport received a donation of 33 sections of seating, which equals more than 100 individual seats, from the Roanoke (Va.) Airport.

“They did some renovations and had their old seats left that are in good shape, so they offered them to us,” McDougle said. “The seats need a good cleaning, but we can do that.”

The existing seats in the terminal have rips and other issues. They will be replaced with the donated seats.

December saw 640 passengers use the commercial service by Silver Airways between the local airport and Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

“Identical number to last year,” said McDougle.

The number remained relatively good despite 11 cancellations and 29 delays in December, he said.

“We were told it was a combination of mechanical, weather and operations,” McDougle said. “We would have had a lot more passengers for the month had there not been 40 flights messed up.”

With the numbers from the last final month of 2013 in, the airport posted 2,050 passengers for the quarter and 8,126 for the year.

“That is 482 passengers above 2012,” McDougle said. “This was our best year since 2005 when we had 16,000 passengers, but it is proof we are building.”