Italian tradition to continue at airport

Councilman Dominick Elia and family plan to open Dominick's on the Runway in June.

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WALLA WALLA -- A new restaurant slated for the Walla Walla Regional Airport will continue the Italian tradition started in the terminal building three years ago.

But the operation, headed in part by a Walla Walla city councilman, will take a different approach, Port and restaurant officials say.

Councilman Dominick Elia and his family submitted the lone proposal for a new restaurant to succeed Caravaggio at the terminal building. Port of Walla Walla commissioners approved the proposal at their Thursday meeting, authorizing Port staff members to proceed with negotiations for a new lease.

Dominick's on the Runway is expected to be up and running by mid-June, officials said.

"We're very excited about the opportunity and look forward to serving the community," Elia said this morning.

He said about 10 employees will staff the operation, which will specialize in classic Italian dishes, steak and seafood under the kitchen management of his son, Nick Elia. Lunch and dinner will be the focus with hours of operation roughly 11 a.m.-9 p.m. and possibly longer hours during the weekends. A weekend breakfast is being considered.

Port Executive Director Jim Kuntz said the proposal better matches the Port's desire for a full-service operation.

In late February, he announced the Port will part ways with Caravaggio, which is expected to continue after mid-May at a yet-to-be-determined location.

Kuntz said that operation no longer meets the Port's service expectation. Bossini, who also operates Walla Walla Catering Co., had been ratcheting up service after a nine-month closure last year. Since re-opening late last September she said she's been slowly returning to full service, starting initially with lunch service and weekend breakfasts.

Principals behind Dominick's on the Runway include Elia's wife, Pam; sister, Mary Elia-Hopkins; and brother-in-law, John Hopkins. All bring extensive backgrounds in customer and food service. Elia plans to continue as owner of paper company Snyder-Crecilius. He said his brother-in-law and wife will likely have a larger impact on the daily operation.

Prices for lunch are expected to range from $6 to $15. The dinner menu ranges from $9 to $26. The lounge will offer the dinner menu with a limited menu at certain hours. It will initially offer beer and wine before progressing to full service, including a house-made Limoncello.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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