SkyBar Owner Wants Out of Contract at Aberdeen Regional Airport

March 23, 2005
Aberdeen, South Dakota's airport needs somebody new to provide travelers with food and beverages.
Aberdeen, South Dakota's airport needs somebody new to provide travelers with food and beverages.

Jim Sandvig, who operates the SkyBar Cafe at Aberdeen Regional Airport, has submitted a letter to the airport board asking to be released from his contract, board members said.

Sandvig could not be reached for comment.

Simply put, Sandvig doesn't think running the SkyBar works financially, said airport board member Steve Kaiser of Aberdeen.

Kaiser and other airport officials expect the topic to be discussed at length at the next airport board meeting. That will be April 7.

Dave Osborn, Aberdeen's transportation director, said Sandvig is required to give 60 days notice. He sent a letter to the airport last week, meaning that if he fulfills the terms of his contract, he will continue to operate SkyBar until mid-May.

Should Sandvig leave the SkyBar, Osborn doesn't want there to be any downtime between when Sandvig quits serving food and drinks and when a new person takes over. He said two people have already expressed interest in operating the lunch counter/coffee bar. The eatery also has a liquor license and sells alcoholic beverages.

The airport board probably won't have to advertise for bids in order to have somebody new take over, Osborn said.

Chuck Bensen of Aberdeen, chairman of the airport board, agreed with Osborn that uninterrupted service is important. Somehow, the airport needs to adjust to not having a

full restaurant in the new airport terminal, he said. In doing so, the operator of the SkyBar needs to be able to make money.

"We need to take a close look at what the income was versus what the expenses were," Bensen said.

The airport board waived Sandvig's $400 monthly rent for February, March and April so that he could spend the money on marketing instead, Osborn said.

Kaiser said he's open to ideas. The city has invested about $80,000 in order for the terminal to provide food and drinks to travelers, so he'd like to see SkyBar service continue.

The old airport terminal was home to the Airport Cafe and Lounge, a full-service restaurant. But when the new terminal opened in 2003, the city and Ron Erickson, cafe owner, could not reach an agreement on moving the establishment into the new building.

Erickson and members of his family instead moved the restaurant across the road from the airport and made it part of their full-service convenience store, known as the Airport Travel Center.