New Airport Eatery Hangar 54 Offers Meaty Specialties

Haley Wright, photos by Andrea Paulseth

PERMISSION TO LAND IN MY BELLY GRANTED. The Hangar 54 Steak is among the specialties at Hangar 54 Grill.
PERMISSION TO LAND IN MY BELLY GRANTED. The Hangar 54 Steak is among the specialties at Hangar 54 Grill.

There is a brand-new restaurant at the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport, appropriately called Hangar 54 Grill, which serves a wide variety of unique and delicious dishes, including meat-based entrees made with specialty meats from Rump’s Butcher Shoppe in Altoona. Bob Adrian, who owns Rump’s, is a part owner of the new restaurant – along with Travis Dudley (formerly the chef at Fanny Hill) and Ryan Anderson – and he is very excited about the business.

Adrian said he was researching spots for a new restaurant, and that the airport location essentially chose them. The name, he explained, came along with it: “I wanted something that fit the location. I wanted a name that when people heard it they would have to assume it was in or at the airport. Hence the ‘Hangar’ part of the name. The ‘54’ came about because I was a jet mechanic in the Navy, and Hangar 54 was one of the hangars at Pearl Harbor that survived the bombings and had been used as a Navy training center. Hangar 54 Grill seemed to roll off the tongue nicely.”

The restaurant’s décor is modern and appropriately airport-themed, with newspaper articles on popular aviation stories transferred onto the surface of the tables, and clocks on the wall featuring different time zones. The restaurant also has a large bar with many local brews on tap. Perhaps the most unique part of the restaurant is its direct view of the airport runway, which runs just outside the large windows.

In terms of the menu, “We wanted to cater to everyone just like we do at Rump’s,” Adrian said. “We did our best to create dishes with great ingredients for a fair price. I think we have something for everyone.” The menu includes a wide variety of items, ranging from amaretto french toast for breakfast to ribs for dinner, and everything in between (including burgers made with hamburger ground onsite).

Adrian noted that owning a butcher shop and having knowledge of meat has helped inform the restaurant’s offerings. “I would say we have a pretty good understanding of meats over at Rump’s. Combine that with expert chefs, and you can create some pretty amazing things. For example, we grind our own burger right at the Hangar. If not for having the Rump’s input on that, we probably wouldn’t have done that.”

He also reports Hangar 54 and Rump’s work together. “For example, we don’t have a smoke house at the Hangar but wanted to do a nice smoked baby back rib,” he said. “So the chefs at the Hangar came up with a great rub, and then we smoked the rub in our smokehouse at Rump’s. This gives the ribs a nice natural smoked flavor rather than using liquid smoke.”

Hangar 54 is doing very well, and Adrian credits co-owners Dudley and Anderson, the very supportive and hardworking restaurant staff, as well as the airport. He noted they are constantly working to improve the customers’ experience. “The feedback has been great,” he said. “The compliments on the food have been very good. With any new restaurant you have some issues with wait times and service. … My hat’s off to everyone that works there for doing an amazing job. Things will continue to get smoother as we learn.”

Hangar 54 Grill • Chippewa Valley Regional Airport, 3800 Starr Ave., Eau Claire • (715) 598-1880 • hangar54grill.com

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