Second Aberdeen Airport Eatery Shutting Doors

Less than a year after it opened, the Passport Bar and Grill - a restaurant located in the new Aberdeen Regional Airport terminal - is closing.

Dave Osborn, transportation director for the city of Aberdeen, said the bar and grill's operator, Tony Martinez, could not make the restaurant work financially and opted out of his contract, effective Feb. 15. It is the second eating establishment to close in the new terminal building.

Martinez had been running the restaurant since May 2005. He had a two-year, rent-free agreement with the city.

In 2004, the city spent more than $70,000 to remodel the observation area to house a restaurant. Jim Sandvig of Aberdeen ran the SkyBar Cafe there from October 2004 to April 2005. But Sandvig, who paid rent of about $400 a month, also exited his contract, citing a lack of business.

The closing of the Passport Bar and Grill means airport officials will have to come up with a solution for the cafe. Federal Aviation Administration guidelines don't allow the cafe to be run with airport money. However, it could be run with money from the city.

Osborn suggested, as a temporary solution, that the airport board - which met for its monthly meeting on Tuesday - ask the city to hire two part-time workers, who would run the cafe approximately three hours a day - one hour before each of the first three flights that leave the airport. The cafe would close once each plane took off.

The airport board also discussed going back to having only vending machines in the observation area, but the consensus was that none of the members wanted to see it come to that.

"I'd hate to walk way from an $80,000 investment," board member Steve Kaiser said.

In the end, the board decided to go with the temporary solution - pending city approval.

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