The Sky Galley restaurant and bar inside of Lunken Airport has closed.
Owner Kirby Brakvill, who took over the eatery in 1999 when it was called "Wings," posted a heartfelt thank you and farewell letter on Facebook.
"After heartfelt consideration and weighing numerous factors, I realized that the continued operation of Sky Galley was no longer viable in this negative business environment. Since I can not control the uncertainty of the future, we are simply unable to wait out the storm. Sky Galley is and will always be a huge part of my life. I know it was a place to call home for many people," Brakvill wrote.
Not an easy post to make, thank you to everyone!Posted by Sky Galley Restaurant at Lunken Airport on Saturday, September 19, 2020
Sky Galley — or the physical restaurant space — opened in the 1930s in the Art Deco Lunken Airport (a historic and still-operation airfield where Charles Lindbergh once landed his Spirit of St. Louis in 1927). When it was Wings and then Sky Galley, the restaurant served up a reliable menu of bar eats and customer favorites, including fried chicken livers and braunschweiger (aka German liverwurst) sandwiches. You could also grab a beer and watch planes take off and land from panoramic windows.
In August 2019, a Cincinnati Health Department (CHD) food safety inspection noted multiple health code violations at Sky Galley, leading to a series of back-and-forth conversations with the City of Cincinnati, which oversees the restaurant's lease. Sky Galley received an official consultation from the CHD in September 2019, during which multiple violations were again found, including structural issues that needed repair.
In a letter from a CHD senior sanitarian, the issues that required correction included (but weren't limited to) floor repairs throughout the kitchen, storage areas, bar area and more to make it "smooth, durable, easily cleanable and moisture resistant;" covering exposed pipes, conduit and HVAC in the kitchen area; repairing or replacing the walk-in cooler; replacing or repairing rusted, chipping and peeling equipment and storage shelving; adding screens to all windows; fixing hand sinks; and more. (You can read the full letter here.)
Then, in December 2019, the city decided to cancel its lease with Sky Galley due to continued issues with those aforementioned violations.
Fans of Sky Galley launched a change.org petition to save the restaurant, saying: "Let’s pull together and keep Cincinnati’s oldest, original airport restaurant open! The city of Cincinnati has decided not to renew the Sky Galley’s lease. This iconic restaurant in Lunken airport is a piece of Cincinnati’s history that deserves a chance and deserves to remain open."
In January of this year, the city reversed course and issued a new lease with the restaurant, offering them $10,000 to help with repairs and upgrades to get the facility up to code.
The new lease was extended until Dec. 31, 2024. But, per the fine print, the city could terminate the lease after 120 days if the work was not completed.
In his Facebook post, owner Brakvill said, "Unfortunately, during COVID we have been unable to correct structural issues in the restaurant. At this time, the city and I have decided to close our doors."
He ended with, "I can not emphasize enough appreciation to all patrons, vendors, employees and to everyone else who has helped make these past 20+ years so great!"
And fans feel the same way, taking to Facebook to share their memories of the iconic eatery: