The owner of the Garden City Regional Airport’s Napoli’s Italian Restaurant is looking to sell the establishment to a new owner that will maintain its current flavor and spirit.

Napoli’s, Garden City’s only locally-owned Italian restaurant, has been in owner Gzim Bela’s family for 12 years, and he’s owned and managed it alongside his wife, Karilyn, for the past three. Despite good memories — the couple met in the restaurant years ago when Gzim was a waiter — an upcoming cross-country move has sent the couple on the search for a new owner to carry on the restaurant as it is.

The Napoli’s brand will persist and the restaurant’s two full-time chefs and two part-time waiters plan to stay on board, Gzim Bela said. If a new owner takes over, he would want them to maintain the menu and quality of the food. Karilyn Bela hopes that the restaurant keeps its “community family feel” with regulars.

The restaurant, located at the airport about 11 miles east of Garden City proper, has over the years become a favorite not just of Garden City residents, but also those that live in surrounding communities. Visitors are farmers coming in for a break, air travelers looking for food and customers from Pierceville, Cimarron and Dodge City, Gzim Bela said.

And their working relationship with the airport is a good one, the Belas said. Some of the kitchen equipment belongs to the airport and they fixed or replaced it if necessary, and the restaurant does not need to pay utilities in its current space.

Ideally, the Belas will be able to hand off the restaurant to a new owner and never close its doors, Kailyn Bela said. Logistically, though the property is owned by the city, it’s just a matter of changing the name on the lease.

But some of the processes may be complicated by changes on the horizon: the airport’s intentions to demolish the current terminal and rebuild a new one in its place over two years, potentially beginning at the end of 2019.

At the moment, hard timelines or plans for the projects are stalled until the Federal Aviation Administration decides to approve or deny funding for the project, said Rachelle Powell, director of aviation at Garden City Regional Airport. And until then, she said, the immediate specifics regarding the restaurant are muddled in uncertainty.

The new terminal will absolutely house a restaurant, though whether its owners will have to pay for utilities or not likely depends on how the meters are set up in the new space, Powell said. Also, unless the city approves a temporary on-site location for the restaurant during the first phase of demolition and construction, the restaurant would likely have to be closed for one to two years as the old space is removed and new space is built, she said.

The restaurant is a huge asset to the airport, Powell said, and her staff will gladly accommodate the owners, whoever they may be, as much as possible throughout any construction processes. But, at the moment, there were simply many things they did not know, Powell said.

Assuming the airport will be able to move forward with its plans to build a new terminal, Powell said any new restaurant owner would be able to offer input into the plans for the new restaurant space. And, the Belas said, there were opportunities to capitalize on projects they never made time for, such as expanding the space’s alcohol selection or adding a bar.

“The airport is in the process of trying to expand and change a lot of things, so it’s going to be a new facility that the new owner will be transitioning to. So, being able to see that process and be able to make it the way that they want it could be a really cool opportunity for the next owner to be a part of,” Karilyn Bela said.

Those interested in buying the restaurant can call Napoli’s at 620-271-1490.

 

Contact Amber Friend at afriend@gctelegram.com.