FLINT, Mich. – Tailwind Hospitality has operated airport restaurants and gift shops for more than 20 years, expanding its business reach from Oregon to New York state.
Take that deep backstory, throw in a flavor of Flint, and you’ve got an idea of what’s been coming out of the kitchen at the company’s newest venture at Bishop Airport for more than a month.
Tailwind has opened both a main restaurant, located in the footprint of a former MSE Foods operation at the top of the airport’s escalators and before the TSA checkpoint, and a cafe-bakery on the side of the passenger boarding terminal.
It serves breakfast and lunch options in its full-service restaurant from 8am to 3-4pm, seven days a week, and keeps its cafe open from two hours before the first flight of the day at Bishop until after the last flight of the day departs the airport.
His cafe on the boarding side of the airport terminal is located in an area that used to be a business center. There, the company has adopted Flint specialties such as Koegel coneys and Flint’s signature sandwich, The Bishop, into its menu. The main restaurant features another Flint trademark item, the olive burger.
“It was big for us that (these locations) had a sense of place,” said Bishop Airport CEO Nino Sapone, whose team led the transformation of the main restaurants and cafes.
The full-service restaurant features new flooring, tables and a layout designed for travelers and those accompanying them.
“We want the airport to be more than a place for passengers, but a place for the entire community to come together,” Sapone said in a statement announcing the new dining options. “Restaurants bring people together, as does travel. So we hope that our new waterfront restaurants with high quality menus will be of great benefit to passengers, their families and everyday restaurant patrons.”
Still in the works for the Tailwind full-service restaurant are a new name for the operation, signs and a liquor license, all expected later this year.
“It’s an area where everyone can come together and enjoy a meal together,” whether they’re taking a flight or dropping someone off for a ride, said Joe Schoenemann, general manager of Bishop operations for Tailwind. “It’s just good food, hot food that people like to eat.”
The restaurant is designed to be family-friendly, he said, with a kids’ menu that includes items like the “I’m Not Hungry,” which includes chicken tenders, fries and tangerines, and the “I Don’t Care” — grilled cheese, fries and tangerines.
Schoenemann is a former executive chef at Palace Sports and Entertainment, where he worked for more than a decade.
“My management style is everything I learned from working at the Palace,” the Goodrich resident said.
The full-service restaurant’s menu includes breakfast offerings such as avocado toast, breakfast burritos, breakfast bowls and a “croissant cristo” with ham, fried egg, Swiss cheese and raspberry jam on a sugar croissant.
His buffalo cauliflower is battered crispy cauliflower tossed in buffalo sauce on a bed of straw and crumbled blue cheese.
Lunch options include house-made soup, sliced cheeseburger, fish and chips and sandwiches, including the interpretation of the classic Flint olive burger, made with two hand-made shredded beef patties, house-made olive salad, shredded lettuce and tomato on a brioche bun.
The Bishop sandwich is only available in the cafeteria. It is made with Virginia ham, salami, provolone cheese, red onion, spicy brown mustard and olive salad on a toasted baguette.
According to his website, the original Tailwind Deli started in 2001 and operates at the airport in Aspen, Colorado. Three years later, Tailwind Deli News and Gifts, Inc. opened in Wilmington, North Carolina, and the company began operating the concession at Wilmington North Carolina International Airport in early 2005.
It currently operates at more than 35 airports nationwide, including Kalamazoo and Lansing.
“We are a national company that stretches from coast to coast across America,” the company’s website states, “yet each location remains unique in its sense of place” offered by our hospitality.
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Clean Juice will open its first location in Genesee County this week