Tudor's, Gino's, gift shop enjoy official grand opening
CEREDO -- When the kitchen of a restaurant in the Huntington Tri-State Airport caught fire last March, Jerry Brienza, executive director of the airport, assessed the damage and found an opportunity.
"This airport is very much like a city in many ways," Brienza said. "We have our own fire department, police department and several businesses, but the one thing we did not have for our staff and our customers was our very own restaurant amenities."
That all changed Thursday as Brienza was joined by airport, municipal, county and state officials at the airport during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of the newest location for two local favorites: Tudor's Biscuit World and Gino's Pizzeria & Pub.
The restaurants have been operating with limited menus for several months while repairs to the kitchen and remodeling of the restaurant area took place.
The arrival of the two restaurants in the airport was not by accident. Brienza said he contacted Oshel Craigo, CEO of Better Foods, Inc. which is the parent company of Tri-State Foods, which owns the two restaurants, about bringing Tudor's and Gino's to the airport as soon as he and board members decided to fill the vacant facility.
"It's a brand that is well-known up and down the Ohio River and throughout West Virginia," Brienza said. "You know, one of the things you hear about people who used to live in this area is that one of the first things they tend to do when they come back is to go to Tudor's or Gino's to get that taste of home. Now, when they land here at the airport, one of the first things they see will be that familiar sign to let them know they're home."
The new restaurant area also features a gift shop full of the usual travel gear, including magazines, books and snacks as well as items a passenger might have forgotten to pack. The shop also includes West Virginia-themed items including coal sculptures, West Virginia glass and apparel from Marshall University, West Virginia University and other regional colleges.
"One of the biggest complaints we received about the facility was that we didn't have a gift shop," Brienza said. "Now, this is a place for the community. It's a place where they can come and relax while they are waiting for and watching planes land or their loved ones take off."
The new addition also addresses what Brienza said was the second biggest complaint he heard about the airport, which was a lack of alcohol sales. The new restaurant includes a bar, where Brienza said passengers can go to "calm their nerves" before a flight, if they so desire.
For his part, Craigo, who has a similar franchise in Charleston's Yeager Airport, said he was pleased with this new business venture.
"We're just glad to have Tri-State Airport as a partner," Craigo said. "We hope this proves to be a great venture for us, the airport and for the community too."
Follow Lacie Pierson via Twitter @LaciePiersonHD.