From the ashes of a kitchen fire last year, officials at Tri-State Airport on Thursday unveiled a pair of new restaurants, including a pub where people can sit and watch aircraft coming and going.
“This is a very grand moment for us,” Jerry Brienza, airport director, said as elected officials and airport board members clustered behind a red ribbon in front of the new Tudor’s Biscuit World and Gino’s Pizzeria & Pub locations inside the terminal.
“We’ve had our ups and downs at this airport,” Brienza said, citing recent improvements, including the addition of Allegiant Air flights contributing to the airport’s $52 million per year economic impact for the region. The airport director compared the facility to a small city, with its own police force and fire department, although he noted it had been a city that wasn’t offering an appropriate level of amenities.
“When we had a kitchen fire about a year ago it enabled us to decide what we wanted it to become,” Brienza said, crediting Oshel Craigo and officials at Tri-State Foods for rescuing the situation by providing limited foods from Gino’s until a more permanent solution could be devised. Brienza said airport officials wanted a place to serve breakfast and lunch, as well as a gift shop and a lounge where travelers can “relax and have a drink and calm their nerves before flying. Today you can sit back in the pub and watch aircraft come and go ... or watch your family get on a plane.”
Before cutting the ribbon, Kevin Gunderson, an Ashland city commissioner and president of the airport board, said he’d already had a few opportunities to enjoy foods from the new restaurants and noted he is trying to help tourism officials in Florida understand the Tri-State has many destinations for tourists from that state.
“Those planes fly in both directions,” Gunderson noted with a smile.
Guests on hand for the ribbon cutting included John and Lydia Tudor, the son and daughter-in-law of Tudor’s Biscuit World’s founder John Tudor, who gave the new restaurant an inspection and obviously liked what they saw. Tudor’s offers a variety of breakfast, lunch and dinner options. The restaurant offers made-to-order sandwiches during lunch, along with daily specials on “country dinner platter” meals such as pork chops, chopped steak and country-fried steak selections.
Gino’s provides a comfortable lounge area with a wide selection of beverages and mixed drinks, along with traditional menu items, including pizza, sandwiches and five types of chicken wings.
The new Tri-State Airport Gift Shop offers items in demand by travelers, including magazines, books and snacks alongside West Virginia souvenirs such as coal sculptures, West Virginia glass products and official apparel for Marshall University and other regional colleges and universities. There are also books about local attractions.
TIM PRESTON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2651.