The restaurant at Cahokia's St. Louis Downtown Airport is off the ground again.
It's now called Spinners and combines a sit-down restaurant with an express carry-out deli and a sports bar. The space was Oliver's for 19 years, and most recently, Crusoe's. Spinners has new carpeting, but the airplane theme remains.
"The decor was so perfect" said general manager Karen Kaufhold, looking up at the ceiling. "Where are you going to find airplane lights?"
Besides the lights, airplane models hang overhead. Framed plane-themed prints line the room. A wall of windows lets diners watch planes being fueled, landing and taxiing by.
"Monday and Tuesdays we're heavy with corporate jets coming in," said Karen, 63, of Fairview Heights. "We have pilots from every country, from all over the U.S. They have wonderful tales about their travels.
"We had all the private jets flying in for the World Series. Some were exotic, beautiful jets, parked from one end to another. It was stunning. Pilots came in to eat. They had 6, 7, 8 hours to wait before their clients returned. They were from Tulsa, Boston, California, from everywhere on the Eastern seaboard."
Spinners caters to airport personnel -- it shares an entrance with Jet Aviation -- but welcomes folks who like to watch planes and have a good meal.
"It's American food," said Karen. "It's comfort food."
The restaurant, owned by business partners Keith and Yolanda Rentschler, opened last month.
"We had been in the restaurant business together before," said Karen. "We wanted to do our own concept. I walked in here and immediately fell in love. It's a unique concept. It's a restaurant, yet it's on airport property. People have a whole airport to watch."
Spinners opened in stages. The deli came first.
"A lot of people employed at the airport don't have a long lunch time," said Karen. "They need something fast to-go."
The express deli menu includes salads, soups and sandwiches, such as The Aviator, a sub of roast beef, turkey, ham and cheddar cheese (12-inch; $8.99; 6-inch, $4.99).
Soups are homemade. Choose the popular loaded baked potato, home-style chicken noodle, chili and more (each $3.99). Salads range from classic ($5.49) to Chicken Cobb, with mixed greens, tomato, onion, bacon and cheddar cheese ($6.99).
The bar, with its new hardwood-style floors, big screen TVs and jukebox, doubles as a banquet area. There's patio seating outdoors on two sides.
"In nice weather, we intend to have patio parties and barbecues before Grizzlies games," said Karen. "During nice weather, banquet groups can sit outside."
They hired chef Judy Cann to create a versatile menu.
"We serve a broad range of people," said Karen. "She had to design a menu that offered something for everyone."
Spinners Spicy Chicken sandwich ($6.95) is an early hit. "It came about one night when I came home late and there were chicken tenders and fried green tomatoes," said Judy, of Granite City. "I stuck them together, added some hot sauce, and realized it was an awesome combination."
At the restaurant, she dipped chicken tenders in hot sauce and spicy breading, then deep fried it, topping the tall sandwich with lettuce, tomato, deep-fried pickles and chipotle mayonnaise. "We also sell a lot of reubens ($6.95) and Inside Out Burgers ($8.50)," said Karen. "They have melted cheese and bacon on the inside."
Entrees range from Spicy Garlic and Lime Grilled Shrimp ($11.95) to Sirloin Strip Steak ($12.95) and Fried Catfish ($10.95), served with vegetable medley, side salad and choice of rice pilaf or potato.
A dessert table at the entrance shows off sweets such as cherry chocolate cake.
"Of the appetizers, people love our Pepper Jack Cheese Poppers ($4.95) and Fried Pickles ($4.95)," said Karen. "The favorite at the bar is, of course, wings (8 pieces, $7.45)."
The bar special on Thursdays is $2 longnecks and $8 buckets (for five beers).
"Thursday night is wing night. We do 50-cent wings and $3 appetizer combo plates. You can taste a variety."
By noon Monday, a steady stream of airport personnel came in for lunch, along with a couple who had made the trip over from St. Charles, Mo.
"The food is good and the service is good as well," said Dean Purdy, sitting in a booth across from wife Carol. Both enjoyed hamburgers and watching planes land.
"I'm coming back Wednesday with a big group," he said. " I'm bringing guests from Indiana. I wanted to check the time it takes to come over from Boeing. We'll eat and visit the Greater St. Louis Air and Space Museum here."
If you go:
What: Spinners Deli, Restaurant and Sports Bar
Where: 6208 Archview Drive (St. Louis Downtown Airport), Cahokia
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays. The bar opens at 11 a.m. The deil is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.
Contact: 618 337-8222, fax 618 337-8285 or spinnersairport.com