Article By: Mary Kaiser
Photos By: Josh Triggs
Nestled between W.Va. 9 and U.S. Route 11, under the shadow of steel wings and somewhere slightly off the beaten path, a new dining establishment— Crosswinds Cafe—has taken off. Crosswinds Cafe, which opened May 9, is unique in its location as it is a fully-operational restaurant inside Martinsburg’s own Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport terminal.
While the airport does not offer commercial flights, it does provide training grounds—or rather, skies— to aspiring pilots who want to learn how to fl y, in addition to hangars for those local pilots who own a small aircraft. The 167th Airlift Wing of the Air National Guard is also located adjacent to the airport, sending its massive C-17 jets into the air over Berkeley County.
Crosswinds Cafe is located on the second floor of the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport terminal, 170 Aviation Way off Airport Road in Martinsburg. Current hours are 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., with the goal of extending hours into the evening for dinner and beverages.
Kathy Jewell, the visionary behind Crosswinds Cafe, said she thinks the restaurant’s unique location and dining atmosphere is attractive to patrons. After all, it’s not every day that one can enjoy a hot lunch while watching aircraft take off and land. Set among lush green fields and surrounded by wooded areas, the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport seems a world away from the hustle and bustle—and traffic— of Martinsburg.
“The location is a little out of the way, but I think it’s better than fighting traffic to get through town,” she said. “It’s a scenic setting and the (restaurant) facility is very nice. The atmosphere is nice out there and the restaurant has a great view of the airport. It’s also a great facility to cater out of.”
Kathy, who has been in the food service industry for 37 years, said she caters for special events in addition to her involvement with Crosswinds Cafe, operating Katara’s Deli with her daughter, and her primary job. She said whenever Crosswinds is not open for business, the kitchen is available to her for catering. As well as providing kitchen space during off-peak hours, Kathy said the space at the restaurant can seat about 75 people and is therefore more accommodating for parties and events.
Kathy said her daughter, Tara Jewell, is in charge of the day-to-day operations of Crosswinds Cafe—when she is not assisting with catering or at Katara’s.
“I’ve been in food service all my life. I’ve done my catering business for a while, but I always envisioned having something of my own that I can fall back on if something happened or if I get to the point where I just can’t do these long hours every day,” Kathy said. Kathy’s philosophy on food is a straightforward one: Good food, made fresh and done right. She said rather than try to take on more than she may be able to handle at this point in time, she decided to pare down the menu at Crosswinds Cafe to ensure quality of selections—not the quantity available—is what diners remember when they leave.
“When I opened (Crosswinds Cafe) up, I really wanted to do something different than what we had at my other restaurant (Katara’s Deli). I didn’t want to take anything away from it,” Kathy said. “I have five appetizers, I have five specialty sandwiches, I have fi ve baskets so I kind of kept it very simplified so what we do, we do it well.”
Neil Doran, airport manager of the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport, said Kathy has everything she needs in the restaurant’s large and fully-equipped commercial kitchen. According to Doran, other restaurateurs have used the space Crosswinds Cafe now occupies through the years, meaning a few pieces of kitchen equipment that had been sitting unused for a year or more needed to be cleaned and serviced before Kathy could move in.
“(The Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport Authority) knew about Kathy from Katara’s. It is frequented by many of the Air Guard members and she provides them a military personnel discount. Kathy has quality food and she’s a capable person,” Neil said.
“It’s a well stocked facility and has seating for about 75, with a great view of the airfield.
The kitchen is fully-stocked and there is a bar that she’s not really using right now, but that may be something she does in the future,” he added. “For now, she has plenty of space and equipment to do what she needs and make a lot of food.”
Both Neil and Kathy said when Crosswinds Cafe gets its beer and wine license, they could see it becoming a popular spot in the evenings, with the restaurant’s current lunch hours being extended through dinnertime.
While the over-21 crowd is certainly a demographic that frequents Crosswinds Cafe, Neil said he thinks the restaurant will attract families—and hopefully instill a love of aviation into young imaginations.
“A lot of people have an interest in C-17 aircraft we fl y over town,” Neil said. “A lot of children are interested in watching the aircraft, too, and I could see Crosswinds Cafe being a place parents can take their kids. Even though we’re not a commercial airport, you can see a lot of cool stuff like visiting military aircraft, helicopters and V.I.P. transport.”
He said a park, which will be a collaborative effort between the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport Authority and the Berkeley County Parks and Recreation department, is in the works. The goal is to create an aviation-themed park with interactive displays where children can learn about aircraft and flight.
“Hopefully down the road when they open that park with an aviation center for the kids to learn about planes and it is more inviting to civilians. I think families and children will want to stop in and check (Crosswinds Cafe) out,” Kathy said. Neil said with its high chain-link fencing, the silhouette of the Air Guard tower looming over the skyline and the rather intimidating security measures, the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport may seem uninviting or even prohibitive to civilians looking for a bite to eat.
However, he said the public should take the launch of Crosswinds Cafe as an open invitation to visit the airport.
“Obviously, you can’t just walk out onto the airfield and take a look around without dealing with security forces being suspicious of you,” he said. “Our goal is to create a place (at the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport) that is public access. Our terminal is open to the public. It is a place where the community can come without worrying, ‘Should I be here?’ Having the restaurant is an open invitation to come down to the airport.”
Kathy also said she found the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport intimidating at first. She said she felt out of place as someone who is neither a pilot nor a member of the Air National Guard’s 167th Airlift Wing.
“When I first saw the fencing and the (air) guard facility, I feel like I’m not allowed over there and I think a lot of people share that feeling. I think once the park is in and they make it more friendly to civilians, I think the word will get out,” she said. “People will realize that yes, they can be here, yes, they can get that close to the planes and I think then, the restaurant and the airport will see more traffic.”
In addition to being a place where locals can eat as they watch aircraft zoom by outside the windows, Neil said he is of the opinion that Crosswinds Cafe will put the airport on the map. He said pilots often want to take their aircraft out for a few hours to take in the sights, the thrill of flying—and they want some food when they land.
“Pilots will look around for an airport that is maybe an hour away to go eat a hamburger somewhere. They are looking for a reason to fl y somewhere; they want an airport or a city to be a destination. We’re hoping that by having a restaurant on the airfield will attract local people as well as pilots doing their flight training from Maryland or Virginia or a neighboring state,” Neil said. “We want them to fl y to Martinsburg and eat in our restaurant.”