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Tailwind opens at CIRA
A traveler arrives at the new Tailwind restaurant at Central Illinois Regional Airport in Bloomington on Feb. 18, 2011. (The Pantagraph, David Proeber)

BLOOMINGTON -- Central Illinois Regional Airport officials said Tuesday they expect the city to finally sign off next month on alcohol sales at Tailwind now that the restaurant has agreed to buy out its chief competitor, though CIRA's plan to issue its own liquor licenses hasn't been scrapped.

CIRA's governing board approved three measures Tuesday that pave the way for Tailwind to open its own restaurant, bar and coffee shop where The Hangar is now located, before the airport's security checkpoint. Tailwind, which has a post-security location, last month reached a deal to buy out The Hangar's owners.

The airport board's approval is contingent, however, on Tailwind getting a liquor license from the Bloomington City Council, something it's twice failed to do. But those applications were for Tailwind's post-security location only, and aldermen had expressed concern about two separate alcohol sellers at one airport.

"My expectation is that it will be approved," CIRA Executive Director Carl Olson told Bloomington-Normal Airport Authority commissioners Tuesday. Board Chairman Paul Harmon said feedback he's received from unnamed aldermen also indicates the dual-site license will be approved at the council's June 13 meeting.

"Three's the charm, right?" Tailwind owner Alan Giaquinto said.

If approved, the Tailwind-Hangar deal would be finalized and the pre-security space would close immediately for remodeling. The new Tailwind Bar and Grill would open July 1 or earlier, Olson said.

Tailwind would be assigned The Hangar's operating rights and its 10-year lease agreement amended to include the new spot.

The new restaurant would still have a wait staff but would add a build-your-own-burger concept and the full coffee service and other food items similar to what's served at Tailwind's current location.

Because it would serve coffee, Tailwind has asked to withdraw a proposal for a new pre-security coffee shop where Bevande was located until closing in April. The process of filling that space is now on hold, Olson said.

Despite the Tailwind-Hangar deal, CIRA has not halted preparations that could lead to it someday issuing its own liquor licenses, said Olson. The staff continues to work on developing an administrative process to do so.

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