Columbia airport restaurant to close

Small number of customers is one reason for closure
Tuesday, July 17, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 4:48 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hungry fliers at Columbia Regional Airport will soon be forced to search the vending machine now that Tailwinds Restaurant has announced it will close.

On Aug. 17, Tailwinds Restaurant will close after 2½ years of business. A declining number of patrons was one cause for closure, airport manager Kathy Frerking said. The owner of Tailwinds Restaurant declined to comment on the closure. “I am not surprised at all that it’s closing,” said Columbia resident Jim Cook. “If more flights to Kansas City catch on, and the volume will pick up, maybe something will stay.”

Frerking said the space might sit vacant for a while.

It has been hard to keep businesses at the site, including a period from 1998 to 2002 when three tenants occupied the space, the Missourian reported in 2002. From 2002 to 2004, the space sat empty.

Frerking is already working with the city’s Purchasing Department to find a replacement restaurant.

“I got an e-mail last week that the owners were closing operations in August,” said Marilyn Starke, the Department of Finance’s purchasing agent. The search for a replacement begins with a request for proposal, or “RFP,” which is a bidding document that restaurant companies use to propose plans for the space. Starke said she plans to get the document released by the end of the week in hopes of beginning the search for a new tenant.

“I haven’t visited with Kathy (Frerking) in any detail of what a replacement might be,” Starke said.

“Right now we are going out with an RFP to see who’s interested,” Frerking said. “We definitely see it as an important part of the airport.”

Tailwinds Restaurant sells a variety of breakfast entrees and breads, salads, sandwiches and entrees specializing in Latin American and American cuisine. The airport has been struggling with a lack of patrons overall, according to traffic reports on the airport’s Web site. The number of passengers who flew out of the airport for the month of June was only 831, down from 1,147 a year ago.

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