Pending approval by the Kenai City Council, Soldotna-based Odie’s Deli will open a second location in the Kenai Municipal Airport in January.
The $38,400 annual lease will run through 2018 and will include the all of the equipment and space currently used by PJ’s Diner.
“We are extremely excited,” said Odie’s owner Melodie Symington.
The previous diner’s lease is scheduled to run out Dec. 31, and the city put out a request for proposals in late November as part of an Federal Aviation Administration requirement ensuring access to the airport by disadvantaged businesses.
“The program used to be MBWB — minority business enterprises and women business enterprises,” Koch said. “But they’ve lumped all of that together into the disadvantaged business enterprise.”
Having an ACDBE — Airport Concession Disadvantaged Business Enterprise — in the airport allows additional flexibility with the terms of the lease and while Odie’s is a woman-owned business, it does not yet qualify for the ACDBE program, Koch said.
Symington would be required to get a certification to meet the program’s specifications, he said.
“I don’t see why it wouldn’t be really easy for her to be certified,” he said.
The restaurant should be opened by Jan. 13, Symington said as there will not be much remodeling or moving to do on the space.
“We will need a convection oven, that’s where we bake our bread,” Symington said. “Then it’ll just be rearranging the kitchen to our liking and maybe a little remodeling and painting, things like that.”
The store is already hiring, Symington said at least five positions were being added.
“The airport is going to be different hours than we curently have in Soldotna,” she said. “We’re going to be there from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week.”
The request for a bid came during a three-year search for a Kenai location, Symington said.
“We’ve been asked over and over and over again by people ‘When are you going to open a place in Kenai?’ This just kind of dropped in our lap,” she said.
The city contacted several other restaurants to find a new vendor, but Odies was the only one to submit a bid by Dec. 10, according to a memo to the city manager from airport manager Mary Bondurant.
“We talked to some folks that were interested that don’t presently have operating restaurants right now,” Koch said. “You know, some folks wanted to get real creative in the ways that the airport received compensation for that. At the end of the day there’s just one proposal but it’s from a strong, established restaurateurs in the area and we’re happy to have Odie’s in the airport.”
Rashah McChesney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.