Friday, April 06, 2012

New airport eatery offers fresh food: Branch County Memorial (KOEB), Coldwater, Michigan

Avra, left, and Van Stelle are at the rudder of the new operation.

 The new cafe is right on the runway at the Branch County Memorial Airport.

History does not seem to record what kind of sandwiches they were, but had he taken off from the Branch County Memorial Airport, he would have been well-served by the new Prop Blast Cafe, which also does carry-out.

James Stewart was on the screens in the eatery on Tuesday, portraying the famous aviator in the 1957 movie “Spirit of St. Louis,” as proprietor Shawn Avra and manager Zach Van Stelle talked about the recently-opened venture.

Avra said they would be showing a number of aviation films there, but the focus is on good, emphasize fresh, food.

They have a full menu of salads, wraps and sandwiches hot and cold, including hoagies, otherwise known as submarines or grinders elsewhere. Pizza is also offered, with Van Stelle hand-rolling the dough.

Frozen, pre-packaged food will not be found at Prop Blast, and both Avra and Van Stelle, formerly of the Bronson Strike Zone, made clear all their produce is fresh. Iceberg lettuce will not be found there, with the more nutritious romaine used instead. Their deli meat, sliced fresh daily, comes from Butcher’s Row, just down the road toward the city.

He said his main goal is customer satisfaction.

Avra, who established Planet Powersports on the east side of Coldwater as the major Midwestern retailer for big boy — and girl — toys and accessories, and has operated Elite Aviation Services (EAS) at the Memorial Airport for the last decade, has had Prop Blast in the works since last July.

In addition to having all the health department and other government regulatory hoops to jump through, Avra said he wanted to take his time and do it right, including moving EAS from the former building out by the U.S. 12 highway, now occupied by Custom Agri-Systems.

He noted the old Airport Inn, now being torn down, was a good draw, and speculated that somewhere in the neighborhood of half his customers will come from the air, and half from the highway.

“You can fly in, taxi up, and get something to eat,” he said.

As for those on the ground, Avra noted one couple comes from Bronson for breakfast every Sunday morning, after going to church at St. Mary’s.

The cafe is right on the runway, and those who dine there have a 60 to 70 percent chance of seeing a plane come in or take off, if they are not busy with eating and conversation, or, watching an aviation movie.
“One minute, it could be a 60-year-old classic airplane, the next it could be a $3 million-dollar business jet,” said Avra.

Memorial Airport Manager Ron Dooley said he and wife Minnie can speak first-hand to the food at Prop Blast.

“It’s wonderful,” he said.

Contact and hours

Prop Blast is at (517) 781-6000, fax 877-320-7989. The hours are Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., with breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays from 7 a.m. until noon, and then closing again at 8 p.m. A menu can be found at, and they are on Facebook. Avra said people can watch the sites to find when airplane rides will be offered.


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