Iconic restaurant at Sacramento Executive Airport nearly lost its lease. What happened next?

A few months ago, the fate of Aviator’s Restaurant — a popular restaurant at Sacramento Executive Airport — was in jeopardy.

The eatery on the 6100 block of Freeport Boulevard appeared poised to lose its lease with the Sacramento County District of Airports after two decades in business.

That’s when the community stepped in, rallying together to save the restaurant.

Now restaurant owner Cheung-Sang Chik is in negotiations with the district to keep Aviator’s where it is.

“I was surprised that so many people are supporting me,” Chik said, adding that he’s happy and thankful for all of his customers.

Here’s what happened.

The terminal and offices of Sacramento Executive Airport on the 6100 block of Freeport Boulevard in Sacramento on Nov. 30, 2023. The county has switched leasing for the airport’s popular restaurant, Aviator’s, to a month-to-month lease as it explores bids from other vendors for the space. Aviator’s, which serves breakfast and lunch, has been leasing the space in the airport for 24 years.

Restaurant at Sacramento airport nearly lost lease. What happened?

Featuring floor-to-ceiling wood paneling and tall windows, Aviator’s has been a local favorite for 24 years.

Customers enjoy classic diner-style fare while admiring models of historical aircraft hanging from the ceiling or watching airplanes land and take off at the nearby tarmac.

In December, Sacramento County decided not to renew the restaurant’s lease for 2024, deciding instead to continue on a month-to-month basis while it accepted bids from other vendors for the space, The Sacramento Bee reported at the time.

In a statement, Stephen Clark, deputy director of commercial development for the county’s airports, said the choice not to renew Chik’s lease was a “routine administrative procedure.”

“The department intends to continue to provide the public with an approachable and affordable dining option that celebrates the airport’s rich aviation heritage,” Clark said. “The airport will not require a change to the Aviator’s aesthetic or concept.”

Chik told The Bee on Thursday he was disappointed the county didn’t talk to him when they made the decision to put out a request for proposal, which is a business document that solicits bids for contractors.

What did Aviator’s customers do to help?

Customers found out about the airport’s decision and got involved by sending testimonials to the county and starting a Change.org petition that garnered more than 4,300 signatures.

Liv Moe, who helped start the Change.org petition, called Aviator’s “a jewel in the community.”

“The food is affordable and well prepared and the service is excellent,” she wrote on the petition website. “This is by far one of the best and most unique places to get breakfast in Sacramento.”

After releasing a survey asking folks about Aviator’s Restaurant, the Department of Airports received more than 3,500 responses, Clark wrote in an email to The Bee on Feb. 26.

The airport will be sharing the survey responses with Chik and releasing them online for the public to read, too.

“Based on the community’s interest in Aviator’s,” the county decided to forgo its plans to bring in another vendor and instead “enter into direct lease negotiations” with the restaurant, Clark said.

“We start negotiating next week,” Chik said.

He hopes to run the restaurant for another 10 years.

What’s on the menu for breakfast and lunch?

Breakfast and lunch is served daily at Aviator’s.

Customers can find omelets, french toast and eggs on the breakfast menu, with options ranging in price from $8 to $12.

During lunch, options include hot sandwiches including a patty melt, steak sandwich or Reuben. Other menu items include burgers, a New York steak and pasta.

Lunch items range from $10 to $18.

“The food is excellent,” Jaime J. of Sacramento wrote on Yelp, a review website. “The service was great. The breakfast food is so good. The lunch food is great, the sandwiches all very tasty and delicious.”

When is the restaurant open?

Aviator’s Restaurant is open from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily.

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