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City takes another shot at landing restaurant at airport

“The place provides a really neat view of the airport, the runway and planes,” says Jack Tunstill, airport advisory committee chairman.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times\uFEFF

“The place provides a really neat view of the airport, the runway and planes,” says Jack Tunstill, airport advisory committee chairman.

ST. PETERSBURG — The city is again trying to attract a restaurant to the second floor of Albert Whitted Airport's main terminal.

The city spent two years negotiating with the owner of a steakhouse chain to put a restaurant in the new $4-million terminal, but talks fell through in September. Some city officials and those involved with airport operations decried the failure at the time.

"We were really disappointed about that because we really wanted to bring more people to that area," said City Council chairman Jamie Bennett. Since the airport avoided being closed in 2003, the city has tried to make the site more accessible to those who can't afford a private plane. Officials consider a new restaurant a way to make the airport friendlier to the public.

"I think there really can be a successful establishment there," said Jack Tunstill, chairman of the Albert Whitted Advisory Committee and a flight instructor. "The place provides a really neat view of the airport, the runway and planes. People have always been interested in that sort of scenery."

The city's Economic Development Department has said it will issue a request for proposals by Nov. 21 in hopes of attracting a new tenant for the second floor of the 10,000-square-foot terminal. The RFP will detail what a restaurateur has to do to apply for the space.

Department spokeswoman Sophia Sorolis said responses likely will be due in late January.

"The city and airport officials will choose certain criteria that have to be met for someone who wants to occupy the space," Sorolis said. "Experience in operating a restaurant will probably be one of the factors considered in proposals."

Sorolis said the RFP is being revised and that all the criteria have not been finalized.

The available space is about 5,095 square feet and has a 599-square-foot multipurpose room, which includes a 385-square-foot balcony.

The city says local and national restaurateurs can apply for the space.

"I remain optimistic. I feel that it's such a nice place to put a restaurant in. I think if it's good, solid airport food, people will come," Bennett said.

City takes another shot at landing restaurant at airport 11/01/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 3, 2008 12:20pm]
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