Confidence airport restaurant will fly
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — Expect more than airplanes flying at the Lake Tahoe Airport in December.
Restaurateurs Mike Weber and Brad O’Roark have big plans for the restaurant location, including flair bartending. This type of show, featured in the movies “Cocktail” and “Coyote Ugly,” involves juggling of shakers, glasses and bottles.
O’Roark, managing partner of the proposed Chase’s Bar and Grill at the airport, has 19 years of experience as a bartender at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe.
He and Weber, former managing partner of Camp Richardson Resort, Beacon Bar & Grill and Fresh Ketch Restaurant, have been juggling aspects of a remodel, amounting to more than $10,000 at the site of the former Tailspin Restaurant and Lounge.
Tailspin closed in July after owner Ed Pennypacker left with unpaid bills.
Enter Sierra Mountain Enterprises, which agreed to lease the spot in August from the city of South Lake Tahoe for $500 a month.
Two weeks ago, the proposed 3,600-square-foot restaurant and bar received its liquor license — which goes into affect the first week in December.
Weber and O’Roark are planning on a successful enterprise, despite city financial woes, which have prompted officials and residents to discuss cutting back on, or pulling future airport subsidies since there’s currently no commercial air service.
A strategic plan is in the works to attract a carrier, even with previous failed attempts.
“If I were a restaurant owner (there), I would be concerned about all the unsuccessful attempts made at the airport,” City Councilman Bill Crawford said, adding the industry is a competitive business.
If anything, the duo hopes to attract business to the airport.
“I heard a lot of people say the Renaissance Festival would never work,” Weber said. “We know we can do it. There’s no question about it.”
Weber and O’Roark are not banking on commercial air service to make their restaurant fly.
Beyond the aviation industry work crew and visitors passing through, Chase’s will be aimed at locals. Weber and O’Roark hope to tout the view, atmosphere and unique menu planned for 68 tables inside and 50 outside.
The duo also would like to host group meetings, which may allow 400 people to spill out into sections of the airport, Weber said.
When they’re settled at Tahoe, the restaurateurs plan to open similar eateries in Sacramento, Reno and Maui.
Chase’s, named after a fictional vagabond character who “lives the good life,” will serve a cross between New Orleans cuisine and California fresh ingredients from farmers’ markets.
Weber, who has lived at Tahoe for 25 years, grew up in Louisiana — pronounced “Luziana.”
After launching a soft opening in December, the owners are scheduling a grand opening on Mardi Gras day, Feb. 12.
Besides a restaurant, Chase’s is slated to feature the Louisiana Purchase general store.