ST. MARYS — Area residents looking for a peaceful, quite location or wanting to watch the planes arrive and depart head to West Wind Restaurant near the St. Marys Municipal Airport.
The restaurant, located on Cessna Road, brings the same wide open space and scenery to diners as it does pilots and flyers.
Owner Shannon Oakes of St. Marys took over the restaurant in August of 2015, she said, opening during the Aviation Festival at SMMA.
Her first job was cooking and waitressing, Oakes said, and she was the head cook and manager when the opportunity came to own the business.
The restaurant was previously called Silver Wind. The “West Wind” name comes from the “West Wind Flyers,” an aviation club of female pilots, Oakes says.
The menu there now is the original, concocted by the previous owner and Oakes. New menu items were added in December, though, based on customer needs and requests.
West Wind has about 15 employees, Oakes says, who get to know customers on a name basis, or talk to travelers about where they’ve been and where they’re headed.
“A lot of people come here to avoid the chaos of downtown — they like the quiet,” she said.
People often request window or deck seats to watch the planes. Deck seating is a popular draw during the Aviation Festival or drag races held in the summer and fall, when the weather is nice or the leaves are changing colors, Oakes says.
Denny Caruso, who owns the garage below the restaurant, will fly planes around for visitors while they’re there, too.
They hear many interesting stories, too, Oakes says, like when a table of two came in and said they heard over the airplane radio West Wind had the “best burgers.” So, they flew in from New Jersey to split a burger.
“People will talk over the radio airwaves — we have ended up with 30 planes flying in here at once,” she said.
The restaurant specializes in “aiming to please,” Oakes says, using homemade recipes, creative chefs, great service, occasional entertainment and daily specials like wing, taco or steak dinner nights.
After all, the restaurant could be someone’s favorite part of a trip they’re taking, she adds.
Everything is local too, such as Straub Brewery products and Copper Fox Wines of Kersey, Oakes says.
West Wind also offers in-house catering, shutting down for private parties, weddings, Christmas parties, birthdays and more.
Diners will ride snowmobiles in the winter or four-wheelers in the summer, enjoying the openness surrounding the airport.
For more information, visit West Wind Restaurant on Facebook or call 814-781-1552.