Terre Haute airport lands a new cafe

A new cafe is slated to take off with a soft opening in late November at Terre Haute Regional Airport.

Corsair Cafe LLC was granted a one-year lease by the airport's board of directors on Wednesday. The lease of 1,500 square feet starts Nov. 1 and can be extended up to four consecutive one-year terms.

The previous restaurant at the airport - the Fly-In Cafe - closed Oct. 31, 2019.

Corsair Cafe has hired a chef who had worked at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, said Zach Boggs, business manager for Malavolti Aviation Services, which will own the cafe. Malavolti Aviation, based at the airport, is owned by Ethan and Emily Malavolti.

"It is a coffee shop/cafe, so we will have coffee, food. The big visionary goal for this was not just to fill the space for you, but to really offer something, we hope with the casino going in and increased foot traffic, that we can get more people to the airport," Boggs told the board.

"For us, that also includes some of our pilot supply shops at the FSS (flight service station) building, giving that face value to pilot supplies for pilots flying in, now they know they have somewhere they can go to get headsets, log books, kneeboards etc, to try to push that market as well," Boggs said.

"The restaurant space is really going encompass overall more than a cafe style, so you will be able to get different coffees, different sandwiches, some lunch items, maybe some dinner items," Boggs said.

The restaurant will have a long bar with stool seating along large windows to allow people to gaze out onto the runways and watch planes land and take off.  Operating hours will be 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Boggs said.

As far as marketing, the cafe will use flyers, coupon books and radio advertisement, as well as social media on Facebook and Instagram, Emily Malavolti told the board.

"We may look into offering student discount, military discount, with (Indiana State University) over here (for a flight school) and we have Rose-Hulman (Institute of Technology) students and we have the National Guard," Malavolti said.

Board member Bernice Helman also suggested using billboards.

"To get a year lease is probably good for both parties," Helman said. "There is a lot of new development that will happen here (along the Indiana 46/US40 corridor) and none of us know exactly...what kind of opportunities that might present for the airport and for our tenants. I hate to see the space empty and we need to get someone in there," she said.

"It is really important that everyone knows we can't alter that kitchen space in any way. It needs to remains exactly the way it is until we do have a long term tenant agreement in place," Helman said.

Board member Rick Burger said he simply wants to see good service. "I have been in there before when other restaurants were there and the service was not there," he said. "Also good food and a fair price, but the service is important."

Project updates

In other airport business:

• Kelsey Veatch, finance manager for the airport, reported the airport has 50 percent of its 2020 budget remaining, largely due to a decrease in spending during the COVID-19 pandemic. With that in mind, the board approved transfers among budget items and approved $235,000 for a new street sweeper, used to remove foreign object debris (FOD) from the airport's runway apron. The cost represents about 7.5 percent of the 2020 budget, said board attorney Scott Craig. 

• Airport Executive Director Jeff Hauser said the 181st Intelligence Wing will conduct a virtual site survey of the airport on Oct. 26-28, which will be done as part of a requirement for a potential F-35 Foreign Military Sales Training Center. "This will be the last of the five (airports under consideration), which is not always a bad thing, but may be good as it is the last survey they will remember," Hauser told the board.

Other airports being considered include Buckley AFB, Colo.; Fort Smith Airport, Ark.; Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, and Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich.

"I think we stand a decent chance," Hauer said, adding the U.S. Air Force expects to "pick a primary airport and alternate, sometimes they pick two alternates, sometimes in January or early February," he said. Then an environmental impact study, which includes noise impact, will be conducted. A final determination will be next winter (2021)," Hauser said.

• A military exercise will be conducted in August 2021, which includes 70 different aircraft, Hauser told the board, with about 20 of the aircraft to be located at Terre Haute Regional Airport for "a few weeks. That is a special operations exercise...they don't tell us about it, but wanted to see if they could use some of our (airport) space and make sure we had fuel."

• The 45th Air Race Classic for female pilots remains scheduled to end at Terre Haute Regional Airport in 2021. The race, slated for June 22-25, starts in Lakeland, Fla., ending in Terre Haute. The event continues in Terre Haute through June 27.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com. Follow on Twitter@TribStarHoward.

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