The path shared by two local organizations has come to a fork, but spokesmen for each say both routes are aimed high.
A news release issued by Louise’s Italian Fine Dining this week announced tonight will be its last as a full-service restaurant at the Terre Haute International Airport. Its parent organization, which also operates The Copper Bar, Louise’s Pizzeria, and a catering division, will continue to service the facility for events.
Meanwhile, owner Rob Lundstrom, said he is moving the restaurant to a new, permanent location at some point this year.
“With our relocation, we will continue the type of service we’ve had at the airport,” he said of the upscale Italian cuisine associated with the name Louise’s since 1939.
Lundstrom declined to speculate on the timetable for opening the new restaurant, but confirmed it will be this year.
“We have multiple locations that are options for us,” he said, emphasizing his commitment to the “fine dining” model. “We’re going to be down on a transition period, but it’s leading to a bigger, better future.”
Founded in the early 1930s by Louise Ambrosini, the restaurant features recipes from her mother, a native of Italy. The Lundstrom family purchased the business in 2001, but has since moved and expanded it, most recently into the airport in 2008.
Bill McKown, executive director of the airport, said he wishes Lundstrom the best, and both men said the relationship will continue on through catering and support.
“It’s an exciting change for him,” McKown said, crediting Louise’s Italian Fine Dining with a number of loyal customers. “We definitely support him.”
Meanwhile, the facility has begun work toward finding a new restaurant for what McKown said is a facility ready to grow with demand.
“I think it’s very important to keep a food service,” he said, adding the board is expected to issue a request for proposals at its March meeting, and a number of prospects have already approached him.
What kind of restaurant, and what its hours will be, is still under discussion. McKown expressed his interest in securing a provider which offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. In addition to work set to begin on new facilities for the Indiana Army National Guard, the airport has finalized agreements with the Indiana State University Flight Academy to return students to its runways. The university and airport had discontinued that relationship prior to McKown assuming the director position, and its return will bring a mass of people at various points throughout the day. Providing meal service at early hours through late evening, as well as lunch, are all priorities, he said.
McKown said his organization will be announcing Lundstrom’s new location and opening date on its website once that’s been established.
Lundstrom emphasized that the move does not reflect poorly on either party, it’s just an opportunity to expand.
“We’ll continue to be a big supporter of the airport,” he said.
Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.