A few years back, the Waco factory in Battle Creek, Michigan, decided to open a cafe for their employees on site at the airport. It was so popular they opened it to the public.

Now, in August 2022, they have opened their second location in Lakeland, FL in the main terminal.

The Flight

Accompanied by my daughter this time, Grace and I departed KORL just before 10am. Tower gave us a straight out departure, which is nice, because Van Anda planes are now $155/hr Hobbs, wet. Gas prices have gone up! (Let’s Go Brandon!)

We landed just under an hour later, taxied straight to the main terminal, and parked on the concrete as directed by Lakeland Ground Control. We were the only plane there, on a Saturday, which is surprising. There is a stack of chocks against the building, about 100 pairs. They are obviously planning on attracting the Fly In for Lunch bunch.

About The Terminal

Airport admin opens the terminal at 10, which is very nice. No one stopped us, checked IDs or anything silly like that. We walked right in, did the necessary post flight activities and went upstairs to the restaurant.

Grace in the main terminal area – restaurant up stairs

I believe it’s a Sopwith Camel hanging in the main terminal – in front of the cafe

Even though the terminal opens at 10, the restaurant doesn’t open until 11, and they will not let you in a minute before!

The Waco Kitchen

The menu is excellent. The prices are not unreasonable. All prices are up these days but there is certainly no gouging going on here.

I had a SCHWEINEBRATEN BBQ SANDWICH, which is German-style pork roast, house bbq sauce, Napa cabbage slaw, pretzel bun . $15 for this is perfectly reasonable. The portion was very generous!

Grace got the CAPTAIN’S CAVATAPPI, spinach, mushrooms, cheese sauce, seasoned breadcrumbs and unmentioned – some pasta. $16. She said it was excellent!

PIREP

The cost ended up being less than $300 but we also got a COMPED lunch from the manager, which I promise, has nothing to do with the favorable review!

  • Aircraft Rental: 1.6 Hobbs * $155 = $248
  • Restaurant bill: COMPED – but would have been about $35 before tip
  • ——-
  • Total: $298
  • ——-
  • Total flight time 1.9

They plan on opening one more location each year, for the next ten years. Locations are TBD but Todd Kercher, the KLAL manager said count on at least one more in FL and probably a few in TX.

They are well staffed and that’s a good thing, because even though we were the only fly in customer, the place filled up fast.

The kitchen looks, new, shiny, clean and efficient. Lot’s of staff!

We enjoyed our lunch in the very cushy booths. I could have slept there

I can see this will be a popular location.

Right now they are open for lunch, and hor douvres during a happy hour from 4-7. Fully stocked bar which means nothing to me as I plan on flying in every time. They will be adding breakfast and dinner down the road.

Todd reported to me that dinner will start in September 2022.

“We will walk before we run” Todd told me, which makes good sense.

Surprisingly, we were the only fly in plane. I expect that will change quickly.

Flying Home

Grace and I saw some weather coming in, so we were glad to get out of there a little early. We were starting engines at 1150 and airborne (with a 2 minute wake turbulence delay behind a heavy B767 Flying for Giant/Amazon) right around 12. Dodged a few clouds on the way back but managed to stay safely VFR and landed a good 30 minutes before the rain in KORL. Taxied to Atlantic Aviation and got a nice ride back to the FBO in the golf cart.

Grace posing in front of the new terminal

Grace took this shot as we took off from KLAL

Great flight, great day, great time!

Also – Great lunch, I recommend this place. Notice: They are closed on Sundays.

This column is created and produced with assistance from the Florida Aviation Network

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