MAYVILLE - With summer slowing down business, a new restaurant located at the Chautauqua County Jamestown Airport may have its lease restructured.
The county airport commission, in its August meeting, unanimously approved a desire to amend the current rent agreement with Runway 7 restaurant at the airport. The change could potentially lower costs by hundreds of dollars a month.
"With the summer weather and everything that's been going on it's been a little challenging for them," said commission member Vince Horrigan, R-Bemus Point. "We decided that a restructuring could help."
The county Airport Commission is pushing to restructure a rent lease agreement with the county regarding the Runway 7 restaurant at the Chautauqua County Airport in Jamestown. The new restaurant, open for four months, has not seen the business it expected.
P-J photo by Eric Tichy
County officials, who recently toured the restaurant, have noted its importance to the airport, which has struggled to remain viable.
"We recognize the restaurant is an asset," said Tim Dills, county airports director. "We are looking to get some help; we need some assistance."
The legislature last year approved a $600 a month lease with Teel Wolcott, restaurant manager, to open Runway 7. The county, in its agreement, pays for electric, gas and water. Wolcott pays for telephone and waste disposal services.
Since opening March 1 the restaurant has seen half the number of patrons expected, according to a resolution pre-filed with the legislature's Public Facilities and Audit and Control committees.
"We see great things happening," Wolcott said to The Post-Journal. "You just simply cannot compete in the summer with everything this is going on."
Wolcott said she was just recently made aware of the possible lease restructure. "They came to me, I had no idea they were talking about this," she said.
Horrigan said the airport commission decided to assist Wolcott by pushing to lower her monthly payments to $200 a month. The county would also receive 5 percent of gross sales up to a maximum of $600 per month. The lease is similar to an agreement in Franklin, Pa. and its airport, Dills said.
"These are tough economic times and we are going to have an airport anyway," Dills said. "We have a great restaurant here and we want to see it succeed."
"We saw that they were struggling," he added, noting that the facility has sat vacant for years prior to Wolcott stepping up. "The county was paying for it anyway. Any income plays to our advantage."
County Executive Greg Edwards said he is "100 percent" in favor of restructuring the lease agreement, and applauded Horrigan and legislator David Himelein, R-Findley Lake, for their research.
"I think it's challenging because it's not considered a destination restaurant even though the food I had (last week) proves it should be," Edwards said. "I had a group meeting there, and as we were there two brand new helicopters landed and the servicemen came in and had lunch.
"For all those reasons there has to be access to a quality restaurant to our travelers. Horrigan and Himelein rolled up their sleeves and analyzed that business market."
Horrigan said with the Wings of Freedom Tour, fall promotions and the winter snowmobile season coming to the airport, business at the restaurant should pick up.
"Those things should help them out," he said.
Committees will be discussing the lease restructuring during meetings this week.