Friday, August 02, 2013

Airport eatery Hangar Too makes changes after unplanned closure: General Wayne A. Downing Peoria International (KPIA), Illinois

PEORIA —   Though the last flight out of Gen. Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport departed at about 7 p.m. Wednesday, lingering passengers and their greeters had an extra hour to eat and drink at Hangar Too.

The airport's restaurant and bar adjusted its hours Wednesday, opening at 5 a.m. and closing at 8 p.m. rather than aligning with the schedule of departures. The change should alleviate confusion and act as a guideline for Hangar Too, which can opt to remain open and serve customers of the many flights arriving daily past 8 p.m.

"The airlines changed schedules so often, that was very hard to target," said executive director Gene Olson, adding that vending machines are still available after the restaurant shutters. "We're not really targeting arriving passengers because they tend to zip right in and leave really quick."

The private restaurant will also see an additional worker, following a recent incident in which the sole waitress on duty broke with policy and closed Hangar Too for about 40 minutes, Metropolitan Airport Authority of Peoria board members discussed Wednesday.

"She was taking a smoke break," said Board of Commissioners treasurer Michael Landwirth, who observed the unplanned closure. "I couldn't believe it."

Lisa Holcomb of Streator had decent service while waiting for her cousin to arrive from Chicago, but she said the restaurant would benefit from another hand on deck.

"She's kind of busy because she's the only person in here," said Holcomb, one of four patrons at the time. "You come here and it's like, 'I gotta get something here before I leave.' They definitely need another person."

A frequent visitor to the airport, Jennifer Fee of Groveland said even a short closure would be a great inconvenience.

"I would think that would look very, very, very bad in an airport," said Fee, waiting for her boyfriend's delayed flight from Fort Worth, Texas. "And I would be more akin to say the restaurant should be open as long as the airport is open and the flights are coming in. It's such a nice place, it only makes sense to have it open for the people."