New restaurant opens at airport in Jamestown

JAMESTOWN – A new restaurant is officially up and running at the Chautauqua County Airport in Jamestown.

The Chautauqua County Airport Commission met Wednesday in part to try the food at the Tarmac Cafe, a ’50s-style diner located inside the airport. Tarmac Cafe, operated by Michelle Johnson and her soon-to-be partner Craig Benson, was celebrating one week in business.

According to Johnson, she and Benson were looking for a kitchen to lay down their catering business, Brown Bag Gourmet, and heard through the grapevine that the airport was looking for a tenant for its restaurant. After meeting with Sam Arcadipane, director of airports and parks for the county, the deal was sealed.

“We pretty much had just a handshake that day, because the kitchen was what we were looking for,” Benson explained. “We had to open a cafe in the process, but it’s no big deal. It’s been great.”

“It’s been awesome,” Johnson agreed.

The cafe is open seven days a week, beginning at 5:30 a.m. Aside from serving breakfast all day – with menu items such as the “redeye special,” “commuter cakes,” “overbooked pancakes” and the “pilots special” – it also has a lunch menu complete with classic and grilled sandwiches, hot dogs and burgers. Like the breakfast items, the lunch menu also features airport-themed items, such as “the runway dog” and “the tarmac.”

“We’re doing fish fries on Fridays,” Johnson said. “It’s going to be a very simple dinner, because we’re not looking to do a huge sit-down dinner. So, it will just be a fish fry, we’ll offer probably a beef dish and a chicken dish every week.”

The first fish fry will be this Friday, and will feature this week a 10 oz. sirloin as well as chicken marsala in addition to the option of fresh cod. The regular sandwich menu will be available as well. On Fridays, Tarmac Cafe will be open until 9 p.m.

Tarmac Cafe is also looking to start serving brunches beginning Sept. 22.

“(Brunch will have) standard breakfast items,” Johnson said. “Scrambled eggs, bacon, fresh fruit, all the breakfast goodies. We’re definitely going to have chicken and biscuits every Sunday. Then, it will vary. We will probably do a pasta dish, a meat dish, salad.”

“It will be a pretty extensive menu,” Benson said. “Probably going to do $12.99 for the buffet.”

Johnson and Benson said starting a ’50s-style diner has been fun for them, especially as they have thought about ways to decorate. All of the painting was done by Benson, and the decorating was done by Johnson.

In addition to the diner, Johnson and Benson also run a catering company. They will cater off-site or have room for large parties at the airport.

According to Arcadipane, electrical outlets and USB outlets will be placed around the cafe’s counters in the near future, so commuters and visitors will be able to charge their electronics while they eat.

“Even though it’s a ’50s theme, we need to have some modernization and some of the patron comforts there,” Arcadipane said.

Tarmac Cafe is located inside the Chautauqua County Airport, at 3163 Airport Drive in Jamestown. It is open daily from 5:30 a.m. until 2 p.m., Fridays until 9 p.m., and by special request.