Above: Moore County Airport Manager Brandon Cox guides a $4 million HondaJet into a parking spot at the airport Tuesday. The plane’s owner, Mark Leavitt, regularly flies into the airport because of its low fuel prices.
Willis Construction submitted bid specs to the Moore County Commissioners’ Court on Monday for a proposed restaurant at the growing airport west of Dumas, an airport that has generated a 265-percent increase in fuel sales from 2010-2015 and has recently completed construction of a 100 foot by 90 foot hangar that will be leased.
The certainty of building a 40 foot by 80 foot restaurant at the Moore County Airport hasn’t been nailed down, but a customer who flew into the airport with several passengers for fuel Tuesday asked the question that indicates there might be a need for one.
“Are there any places to eat?” one of the passengers asked.
Mark Leavitt made history at the local airport when he flew in on his $4 million HondaJet, one of only about six in the world. Leavitt’s plane was delivered to him Dec. 31, and he said the company is producing more for customers who have been making deposits on the jet Forbes magazine said will be a game changer for the industry. Leavitt stopped at the Moore County Airport on his way from Mississippi to Utah. For what? To buy fuel.
“I’m a regular customer here,” Leavitt said. “There are only about four other airports in the country that have lower fuel prices than this airport. I fly in here because the fuel is cheap. It’s that simple, and it would be great if there was a restaurant here.
Airport Manager Brandon Cox said that besides buying fuel, customers also fly in to have their planes repaired with a mechanic who leases one of the hangars at the airport. And almost all of them have a question for him.
“I get asked everyday if we have a restaurant at the airport,” Cox said. “When pilots call in, it’s one of the questions they ask.”
Cox also pointed out that a restaurant would draw in customers in addition to the pilots and their passengers. The airport’s proximity to the busy U.S. Highway 87 would make it easy for travelers to pull in, and locals also would be drawn to eat there.
“People would like the uniqueness of eating at a restaurant where they can watch planes land and take off,” Cox said. “People who live in Dumas and the surrounding area could come out here to eat and also see how busy we are.”
So back to the commissioners and the bid specs for the restaurant. They voted Monday to accept them and put the project out for bids. Moore County paid Willis Construction $6,000 to calculate the specs.
“We paid for them. We might as well put it out for bid,” Commissioner Lynn Cartrite said.
The project would be funded by a 50-50 matching TxDOT Routine Airport Maintenance Program grant. Depending on how much the bids come in, the state would put in half of the costs, and the county would match it with the other half.
In a November county commissioners’ meeting, Commissioner Milton Pax said the addition of a restaurant at the airport has always been part of the long-range plan.
If it’s built, the restaurant would be put out for bid to people who would want to lease and operate it. The county would furnish it with essentials such as a vent hood, and Greg Willis suggested the addition of other fixtures (walk-in cooler, automated dishwasher, freezer, etc.) to ensure a lessee doesn’t improperly install a large appliance.