Thursday, April 25, 2013

Another Airport Restaurant Goes Out of Business: North Central West Virginia (KCKB), Clarksburg, West Virginia

By Jeff Toquinto on April 24, 2013

Another North Central West Virginia Airport Restaurant, another one that closes its doors.

At today’s meeting of the Benedum Airport Authority – the governing body of the NCWV Airport – President Ron Watson announced that The Plane View Restaurant, which opened in September, is no longer in operations. The airport was notified of its closure April 8.

The closure is one of several involving the space reserved at the airport for an eatery since the 9/11 attacks. Prior to that, the Bland family owned and operated a restaurant that was successful for years at the terminal building. Since that time, despite the airport providing the facility at almost no cost and covering the cost of utilities, no restaurant has been able to make it.

Despite the fact no eatery has been able to make it for more than a decade, airport officials aren’t throwing in the towel. Airport Director Rick Rock is still of the belief that a restaurant is not only needed, but can prove to be viable.

“I’m not convinced that (a restaurant) can’t work,” said Rock.

Airport officials apparently aren’t convinced that one can’t work either. This morning, a request for proposal for those who may want to consider opening the space on the second floor of the terminal was published in media outlets. Proposals will be accepted until May 14 at 4 p.m.

“I think we need to see what we get from the RFPs that are out,” said Authority member Roger Diaz.

Rock said although the RFPs just went out, he has already received interest from at least one group that may want to open the space back up. In fact, Rock said he provided a recent tour of the now vacant space to a potential restaurateur.

While no one was certain if someone can make the space work, most were in agreement that doing things as have been done with recent tenants won’t work. Authority member and Marion County Commissioner Butch Tenant, who has a background in the restaurant business, said it can work, particularly if a lunch crowd can be served.

“You have to have something unique because you’re not in the downtown area,” said Tenant. “ … You’ve got to get in and be able to get out.”
Rock said that wasn’t the case with the most recent venture. He said during the early months of the operation there was plenty of individuals going to the restaurant, particularly at lunch time. However, he said comments regarding long waits at lunch time apparently led to a demise in the same traffic as the numbers decreased.

“We need someone committed to success. We need someone to have some cash involved so that they have a buy-in,” said Rock. “You need that for at least six months … I do think we have a potential game changer when it comes to restaurants.”

Who that “game changer” was, Rock did not elaborate on. He did say that airport restaurants can work as Hart Field, in Morgantown, has had a successful restaurant for years after struggling for years. Rock said the owner was committed to the business and its success.

Watson added that the airport may consider running the restaurant. That remained an option, but all involved wanted to see the response to the RFP before moving ahead.

"Hopefully we can find a person that has a reputation for good food that's good at business," said Authority member and Bridgeport Mayor  Jim Christie.

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