Rod Hamlet, who runs Pappy’s Grill at the Winter Haven Municipal Airport, is considering opening up Pappy’s Canteen inside the Bartow Municipal Airport terminal. He made his intentions known at the Monday, April 14 Airport Authority meeting.
Hamlet, who also owns and operates Florida BBQ Company & Catering, gave a brief introduction about himself and his background running restaurants, as well as introduced Vicky West, his partner.
“I am highly allergic to paperwork,” he said as he explained what West does.
Hamlet added he has a background in aviation and ran an aviation supply company before focusing on cooking and running restaurants. Florida BBQ, he said, is the contract caterer for TECO (Tampa Electric Company) and the state forestry service whenever disasters occur. In addition, Florida BBQ competes professionally in barbecue contests. In one competition held last year, Hamlet told commissioners his team won all the top prizes.
“We look forward to having a second location,” said Hamlet.
Commissioners asked what would his menu consist of, but before he could respond, Airport Executive Director Cynthia Barrow gave them an idea as she had eaten at Pappy’s Grill.
“His pancakes are the size of a hubcap,” said Barrow.
Those were not the only large portions, said Hamlet, who also extolled other aspects of how he prepares food. “We’re not quite natural or organic, but close to it,” he said. All the food is made from scratch. None of it is processed, and he gave several examples, such as the fact that he uses local produce whenever possible. Another example he gave was that when he makes blueberry pancakes he uses four ounces of fresh blueberries. All his hamburgers, he said, are at least a half-pound of beef. “We have a phenomenal reputation with our food.”
When pressed by commissioners for an idea when the restaurant would open, Hamlet said that part of the process involves the paperwork that needs to be approved. In addition, he will be bringing in new equipment. Having served with the U.S. Marines, Hamlet said that he runs clean operations and invited commissioners to tour his Winter Haven operation.
Additional information Hamlet provided commissioners included his intent to run the restaurant — at first — from 7 a.m.-2 p.m., every day of the week, closing only for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. He would eventually like to add evening hours, on a limited basis at first. At this time, however, he said he did not plan on opening the bar, but wanted to reserve the right to do so at a later date.
In conclusion, Hamlet added that the “Pappy” name came about because of his admiration for World War aviation ace Gregory “Pappy” Boyington. He added his mother attending dances at the airport when it was a military base also played a role.
The response of commissioners was favorable.
“We’re excited and we want to give you our support,” said Airport Authority Chairman Adrian “A.J.” Jackson. With that, commissioners unanimously approved Resolution No. 1073.
The lease will be for a primary term of three years at $500 per month, or at least the equivalent of $500 per month for marketing and advertising.
About the airport restaurant
Several attempts have been made to run a successful, profitable restaurant inside the airport terminal; one that will serve pilots and passengers as well as people who work in the industrial park, in addition to the general public.
The restaurant has become vacant since October 2012. The last tenants were Tony and Becky Grainger, who ran it as Runway 9/27 Air Base Bistro.