Since the recent closure of Sky Lounge restaurant at the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport, there’s been plenty of buzz about the new tenants, SSP America, and their plans.
The 15-year-old Sky Lounge, owned locally by Jim Goff, changed hands in early January after a competitive bidding process awarded the contract to SSP.
The new restaurant will be called Flying Ace Kitchen + Taproom, a nod to Schulz’s “World War I Flying Ace” Snoopy (who frequently fought the Red Baron from his doghouse in the “Peanuts” cartoons), according to SSP representatives.
The global company develops and operates airport restaurants, including 1300 Fillmore and Union Street Gastropub at San Francisco International Airport and Oakland Draft House at Oakland International Airport.
“We want to create a taste of place and make sure passengers coming in know they’re in the middle of Wine Country,” said Kyle Phillips, Vice President, Concepts & Development at SSP America.
Plans include a major remodel and bringing in a high-profile Bay Area chef to create a new menu. Construction will happen in stages to keep the airport’s only full-service restaurant — currently operating under the name Tap & Pour, also from SSP — open for limited breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Renderings of the new restaurant show an open indoor/outdoor space nearly double the current size. Adjustable glass panels will allow outdoor bar seating, and a revamped patio will have tables and lounge seating around a fire pit.
Phillips added that most of the Sky Lounge staff were offered jobs at the new restaurant.
Chef David Lawrence will create the new menu for the restaurant, focused on local products and dishes. A resident of Sonoma, Lawrence has an extensive culinary background and owned 1300 Fillmore and Black Bark BBQ in San Francisco (both are now closed). In his native London, he worked with the French chefs Albert and Michel Roux at their U.K. restaurants, including Michelin-starred Le Gavroche and the Waterside Inn.
Lawrence’s menu won’t fully debut until the restaurant officially opens (possibly late 2023), but Lawrence has a few dishes he’s planning for the casual pub.
“Fish and chips, done fresh to order,” he said. He also plans to include the signature fried chicken sandwich from his restaurant in San Francisco, adding that sushi — a staple of Sky Lounge — will make an appearance.
“We want to keep people happy and incorporate things that are Sonoma. There’s an ocean right here next to us, and Sonoma is the garden of California because everything grows here,” Lawrence said.