Monday, January 07, 2013

Runway restaurant closes up shop: Trenton Mercer Airport (KTTN), New Jersey

EWING — Behind locked glass doors, stacked tables and chairs and a few cardboard boxes are all that is left of The Runway, the restaurant for the last four years in the terminal at Trenton-Mercer Airport.

The restaurant’s managers and county officials had agreed to the closure and the space was vacated yesterday, Mercer County spokeswoman Julie Willmot said. The lease was terminated after the management was unable to pay the minimum rental amount owed to the county, she said.

“The lease was procured competitively and therefore Mercer County was unable to negotiate lower rent,” Willmot said.

County officials said they will consider the financial viability and demand for a restaurant at the airport before putting the lease out to bid again.

“The county is always evaluating the configuration of the air terminal to maximize the operational needs of the airport,” Willmot said. “The viability of any restaurant will be a consideration in determining whether it is an appropriate fit for the terminal space.”

Willmot said county officials will strive to provide access to some level of food service at the airport. When asked if the county might use the former Runway space for something other than a restaurant, she said the county would consider all options.

Art Adams, who ran the restaurant with his wife, Sue Adams, and his mother, Carol Adams, was working to clear out the last of their things at the restaurant yesterday. He declined to comment on the restaurant’s closing.

Posted on both doors to The Runway’s dining room was a letter from the management and staff, saying they were closing the restaurant with “heavy hearts.”

“While we have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to serve the community here in Mercer County over these past four years. It is now time for us to pursue other business opportunities,” the letter read. “Every one of you has touched our lives and we are most grateful for your friendship.”

One of those patrons, Mervin Dissinger of Lower Makefield, Pa., said he was disappointed to find the restaurant shuttered when he visited on Wednesday. The retired pilot said he enjoyed watching the planes take off and land while he grabbed a bite to eat.

“It was all locked up,” Dissinger said. “They always provided me good service.”
Dissinger said he thought that with the success of Frontier Airlines’ new commercial flights the restaurant might have been able to turn a profit.

Frontier Airlines began flying out of the Ewing airport in November, offering cheap flights to Orlando, Fla. The Denver company has already announced it will expand service to Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and Fort Myers, Fla. and to New Orleans. The company said yesterday it will make another announcement on expanded service on Monday but did not provide further details.

The Runway restaurant had been struggling, and in September county officials said they had received only partial rental payments for six months. The freeholder board voted to end the lease agreement with the restaurant’s management early, giving the county the option of putting the lease out to bid and finding a new tenant.

At that time Sue Adams said the family was not making enough money to pay the $96,460 a year in rent. The annual rent had been negotiated down from $99,354, county attorney Sarah Crowley said in September. Any loss in revenue would have to be passed on to the taxpayer, Crowley said.

The Runway opened in December 2008 after Carol Adams made the sole bid on the five-year lease.

The restaurant became available when General’s Quarters, which previously occupied the space, closed abruptly earlier that year.

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September 2012:  Trenton-Mercer Airport's Runway restaurant could lose its lease  

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