A new restaurant hopes to take off at the Jefferson City Memorial Airport this spring.
Bob Drainer said he hopes to open his restaurant, The Landing Zone, around April 1, offering a full breakfast and lunch menu six days a week.
While this is Drainer’s first ownership venture, it’s far from his first restaurant. He’s spent more than three decades working in area restaurants, starting when he was 16 at the former Airport Cafe, which was at the Jefferson City Memorial Airport from 1966-93. Drainer’s father was manager at the airport before retiring in the late 1990s.
“I’m kind of excited to be finally out on my own,” Drainer said. “I’m kind of coming full circle. I’ve had a real soft spot for the airport forever.”
The Landing Zone will be open from 6 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursdays through Tuesdays. Drainer said the space will be available for rent in the evenings, at least as they start off.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it more difficult to find employees, and people may not be comfortable by spring to eat out, Drainer said.
“People just don’t really have the trust in going back out and dining out as much as they used to a year ago,” he said.
And curbside service isn’t really feasible at the airport location, he noted.
The spot has had trouble over the years due to flooding from the nearby Missouri River. The Airport Cafe endured at least four floods that brought water into the restaurant before closing its doors. Nick’s Family Restaurant took up residence in the airport in 2001, vacating almost 20 years later after spring flooding in 2019 caused significant terminal damage. The terminal had to be demolished last year, and Nick’s moved to its current location on East McCarty Street.
Drainer hopes not to have to deal with those issues, as the rebuilt space has elevated the restaurant 11 feet off the ground, he said. The highest levels dealt with were during the 1993 flood, when the water hit 9 feet.
“Hopefully we’ll never be flooded,” Drainer said.
In addition to indoor dining, The Landing Zone will have an outdoor deck that overlooks the runway.
With the pandemic’s effect on restaurants, Drainer said it’s a scary time to open a new venture. But the airport already has an established following when it comes to its restaurants, he said, thanks to the Airport Cafe and Nick’s Family Restaurant, which he hopes will transfer over to The Landing Zone.
Know of any business happenings around Jefferson City? Let us know at [email protected]