ST. PETERSBURG — More than two years since the $4 million Galbraith Terminal was built at Albert Whitted Airport, a restaurant has opened on its second floor.
Restaurateur Steve Westphal opened the aviation-themed Hangar Restaurant and Flight Lounge this past weekend, adding another upscale dining option to the waterfront.
"I really feel like I'm in the right place," said Westphal, who also operates Parkshore Grill and 400 Beach Seafood & Tap House on Beach Drive. Aside from air travelers, he said he expects to draw from nearby condo residents, visitors to the new Dalí Museum and the Mahaffey Theater, and University of South Florida St. Petersburg students and staffers.
Westphal signed a 10-year lease.
City officials hope the restaurant serves as a capstone to a terminal project intended to broaden the airport's appeal.
"The perception by some is that the airport is only used by a small group of people," said Ed Montanari, an American Airlines pilot who served on a 2004 task force that recommended how to renovate the airport. "We were looking for ways the general public could enjoy the airport, and the restaurant was an important part of that."
The city struggled to fill the space. Negotiations with Arigato Steak House owner Dale Del Bello ended because of his concerns about the economy and the failed efforts to get a downtown waterfront stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays.
In February 2009, the city put out bids for others to open restaurants in the space. Westphal's was the only bid considered after Undertow Beach Bar owner Paul Nicklaus withdrew his bid in July.
In the first five years, Westphal is to pay $2,500 a month, plus a percentage of gross revenue. In the next five years, he'll pay $4,500 a month, plus a percentage of gross revenue.
The menu features breakfast, lunch and dinner, with appetizers such as mussel bowls, wings and flat breads and entrees like chicken and waffles, grilled hanger steak and wild mushroom ravioli that range in price from $12 to $20. On Thursday evenings, live jazz will be played.
"To have a first-class restaurant at the airport will make a good first impression for people visiting the city," Montanari said. "This isn't just a big deal for the airport but for the entire city."
Michael Van Sickler can be reached at (727) 893-8037 or firstname.lastname@example.org.