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SW Aviator Feb/Mar 2001
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Solo’s Restaurant
A Singular Dining Experience

Story and photos by Don Mickey

Take a retired Boeing KC-97, a restaurateur who also happens to be a pilot, and an empty restaurant near an airport and what do you have? Solo’s Restaurant.

Just off the GA ramp at Colorado Springs Airport, Solo’s Restaurant is hard to miss. A KC-97 is mated with the restaurant, one wing actually piercing the building. From the exterior, the plane looks as though it could be sitting on the ramp awaiting a mission (If the left wing could somehow be untangled from its encasement). The plane’s interior, which now serves as a dining area, has been refitted with booths, new aluminum facing, and track lighting.

For much of his career, Steve Kanatzar dreamt of combining his years of experience running restaurants with his love of aviation. His dream began to turn into a reality in the fall of 2001, when he located a complete KC-97 in Fort Worth, Texas. "I just happen to be a pilot and a restaurant guy, so it's a perfect match for me," says Steve.

The large aerial refueling tanker, which had been sitting neglected for over thirty years, was disassembled and trucked from Fort Worth to Colorado Springs in eight pieces. It was then reassembled in and around an existing restaurant building. The refurbishing of both the aircraft and the building began in the December of 2001, and this one-of-a-kind restaurant opened in May, 2002.

Even without its aluminum appendage, Solo’s restaurant would be a great destination for any aviation buff. Hundreds of photos of aircraft – some familiar, some altogether unfamiliar - adorn the walls. Dozens of models, including an 8-foot flying model of a B-17, hang from the ceiling. And, of course, the nearby COS tower frequency is dutifully piped over the P.A. system. The main dining area of the restaurant is strategically designed to function around and under the large wing – engines, propellers, and all – of the KC-97.

The menu at Solo’s covers a wide selection of standard airport eatery items, such as burgers and sandwiches, as well as an array of more unique choices. Appetizers include, among many others, the Just In Quesadilla, which is large enough for a meal all by itself, and some of the best Creamy Three Cheese Artichoke Dip anywhere. Main courses include such tantalizing choices as Smoked Salmon Linguine in Cream Sauce, and Steak Neptune – Top Sirloin topped with crab and shrimp stuffing, all smothered in a rich Hollandaise sauce. There are even tasty vegetarian selections (as opposed to the cardboard covered in cheese so often filling this menu area elsewhere), like the Air Port-Obello Burger, featuring a flame grilled portabello mushroom and pesto mayo spread.

For those who won’t be flying home the same day (eight hours from bottle to throttle) there is a full bar. The lounge is decorated with much of the same memorabilia as the main restaurant, with the addition of a fully suited jet jock awaiting the company of a fellow aviator.

Solo’s is located just west of Colorado Springs Municipal Airport, a short, five minute walk from the GA ramp, offering a chance to stretch your legs as you make your way to the restaurant. Turn left on Aviation Way as you exit the GA area, and then turn right on East Fountain Boulevard. Solo’s is hard to miss; the restaurant is just on the other side of the redwood-sided Radisson Hotel. Or, if the flight in was all the exercise you can handle, both Colorado Aviation and Colorado Jet Center have courtesy transportation available.
Find out more about the Boeing KC-97
The material in this publication is for advisory information only and should not be relied upon for navigation, maintenance or flight techniques. SW Regional Publications and the staff neither assume any responsibility for the accuracy of this publication's content nor any liability arising fom it
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©2001 Southwest Regional Publishing, Inc.