Sonoma County airport’s restaurant, Sky Lounge, to close after more than 15 years
Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport’s only full-service restaurant is closing after more than 15 years of serving locally sourced food, wine and beer to travelers and residents alike.
Sky Lounge Steak House & Sushi Bar, located just outside the airport’s baggage claim, will close Friday. The restaurant lost its lease to the space after a request by airport officials for proposals for another restaurant to take its place.
Lori Schandel, airport property specialist at the Sonoma County airport, said Sky Lounge did submit a proposal, but the owner, Jim Goff, did not “put any money into any tenant improvements, nor would he accept the rent.”
She said a full-service restaurant will be moving into the Sky Lounge space.
While she said the restaurant name hasn’t been officially decided, a liquor license application for the space shows a restaurant name of Tap & Pour, with SSP America Inc. of Ashburn, Virginia, and Fillmore Food Group LLC of San Francisco listed as owners.
A LinkedIn page for SSP America says the company operates “food and beverage concessions in travel locations.”
Schandel said, to be competitive and because the lease for Sky Lounge was ending at the end of 2022, the airport had to put out a request for proposals and invited anyone interested in the space to provide a plan for how they would run the restaurant.
She added that after a “two-stage scoring” process, the proposal from SSP America scored highest.
“We have enjoyed a wonderful relationship with Jim (Goff) for the past 15 years and it’s very hard for us to say goodbye to him,” she said.
Goff opened the restaurant Aug. 6, 2007, during the economic recession and just three months after Alaska Airlines started conducting flights through the airport.
He was working at a construction company at that time, as well as being an investor in Sky Lounge. He worked at both until six years later, when he sold his construction company to his employees to work at the restaurant full-time.
“There’s not a lot of difference between the two: instead of lumber, wood, sheet metal and plastic, you have food,” he said.
Goff said what helped the restaurant get through “hard times,” including the COVID-19 pandemic, was the loyal clientele — pilots, flight attendants, workers from nearby businesses and local residents — who kept coming back to the restaurant.
“It’s a bittersweet ending to this right now,” he said. “We had a captive audience during a good five or six months of the year while the weather was great and have a full patio of people coming out here from other airports just to come and have lunch.”
Goff also coached football for Windsor High School and the Windsor Knights Youth Football program outside of the restaurant and during winter breaks. He would sometimes hire some of his players to work in the restaurant busing tables or doing dishes.
Windsor resident Gary Matthews has known Goff for nearly seven years and would walk to Sky Lounge for breakfast on Sunday mornings with his wife..
“We would come down here and have some food or have some beers so I’ll miss that and when you could roll in and everybody knows your name,” he said. “I just think he’s been a great guy for the Windsor community, and I hope he opens up something else around here.”
Jessica Goff, Jim Goff’s youngest daughter, started working at Sky Lounge cleaning tables when she was 9 years old. She said she has a more emotional attachment to the restaurant than most people because she grew up there, learning to ride a bike and drive a car there.
“I made so many of my friends this way, and I have a huge attachment to this place in particular because I’d always say I don’t have to go to work, I get to go to work,” she said. “I love all the people I got to meet and the relationships I’ve built with regulars over the years.”
Goff said he doesn’t have a lot of plans as to what his next steps are and wants to finish up at the restaurant before he decides.
“I love being at the airport,” he said. “I want to thank all the community members and local people that supported this restaurant for a decade and a half. Come out to the Sky Lounge and enjoy your last meal here.”
Sara Edwards is the small business and consumer reporter for The Press Democrat. You can reach her at 707-521-5487 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @sedwards380.
Small businesses are the bread and butter of Sonoma County. I cover a diverse group: Chambers of commerce and business groups, clothing shops, jewelry boutiques, hobby stores and more. Economic uncertainty is a high concern among Sonoma County consumers, and it’s my job to make sure shoppers know what’s happening in the local economy and how those trends and issues impact them.