A sign on the entrance to the WACO Kitchen, which closed, at least temporarily, on Monday without notice.
A sign on the entrance to the WACO Kitchen, which closed, at least temporarily, on April 22, 2024 without notice. | Kimberly C. Moore, Jazbablog

Any hope that the abrupt closure of WACO Kitchen at Lakeland Linder International Airport was only temporary was extinguished Monday.

Airport Director Kris Hallstrand said the city sent owners Dimor Eats LLC a “cure notice” last month insisting they comply with their contractual obligation to serve food and beverages at least six days a week. It got no response. Then the city sent a five-day eviction notice that also got no response.

“So essentially they are done,” Hallstrand said during the city’s annual strategic planning retreat on Monday.

What will replace WACO Kitchen? Hallstrand said the situation is legally complex, but she and Assistant Airport Director Adam Lunn have fielded inquiries from about 50 different restaurant owners. “We're going to move forward and find the best option for the airport,” she said.

Can a new restaurant open before passenger service starts? Avelo Airlines' first passenger flight is scheduled to depart from Lakeland to New Haven, Connecticut on June 13. Mayor Bill Mutz asked if a new restaurant could be open by then. Hallstrand said she does not expect that, but the airport might invite some food trucks to set up in the short term.

What went wrong? Aviation enthusiast Dieter Morszeck opened WACO Kitchen in the summer of 2022. However, the fine-dining, farm-to-table restaurant stopped serving cocktails from its full bar in mid-March citing an issue with its liquor license.

In April, Hallstrand was notified of a split between Dimor Group Inc., based in Germany, and Dimor Eats. The German group had been in negotiations to buy Dimor Eats. It is unclear why the deal fell apart, but it led to the restaurant's closure.

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Kimberly C. Moore, who grew up in Lakeland, has been a print, broadcast and multimedia journalist for more than 30 years. Before coming to Jazbablog in the spring of 2022, she was a reporter for four years with The Ledger, first covering Lakeland City Hall and then Polk County schools. She is the author of “Star Crossed: The Story of Astronaut Lisa Nowak," published by University Press of Florida. Reach her at [email protected] or 863-272-9250.

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