The Hungry Pilot: Sky Galley, Cincinnati

Sky Galley

The Sky Galley is located in the old terminal building at Cincinnati Lunken, right on the ramp.

Restaurant name: Sky Galley Restaurant and Bar

Airport: Cincinnati Lunken Airport (LUK)

Famous for: Art deco building and big patio

Restaurant tips: The Sky Galley is an institution in the Midwest, having welcomed pilots and local diners for decades. It’s located right inside the former airline terminal building at Lunken Airport, so the location is hard to beat. In addition to the history of the art deco building, the Sky Galley features a large outdoor patio that looks right onto the ramp. This is a great place for a $100 hamburger on a summer day. The bar is also a happening spot, especially on weekends, and you’re sure to hear some good hangar flying if you pull up a stool.

The menu features a wide variety of food, from munchies like nachos and wings (a specialty) to higher-end fare like a New York Strip and fresh salmon. There really is something for everyone on the menu. Prices range from $7 for a hearty sandwich to $22 for a steak. The restaurant is not open for breakfast, so this is a lunch or dinner spot.

One of the fun parts about visiting the Sky Galley is the history. Lunken Airport has been in existence since 1919, with a flight school since 1921. American Airlines was born on the airport, among many other famous names. Take some time to soak in this history when you visit the restaurant–the terminal building lobby has some good historical pictures.

Airport tips: Lunken is a busy corporate and general aviation airport, with three runways and a control tower. A landing on 21R or 25 will leave you at the Sky Galley after exiting the runway. Just tell the tower you’re headed to the old terminal and they will usually oblige–the controllers are some of the friendliest you’ll find. Parking at the Sky Galley is free and there is plenty of space for multiple airplanes (although fuel can be expensive).

With the multiple intersecting runways, take some time to learn the airport layout before your first visit. Runway incursions are a real threat, so check your position or ask for progressive taxi instructions if you’re unsure. Lunken also sits in a valley, with hills on two sides and a river on the other two sides. That means fog can be a common occurrence, so be prepared for it on early mornings. There is an ILS approach to 21L.

Want to add your favorite $100 hamburger spot? Write up a review (following the format above) and email us: editor@airfactsjournal.com

8 Comments

  1. Todd says:

    Sky Galley has a place in my top five fly-in restaurants. Love their patio that looks right over the tarmac with a great view of the airport operations. Combine that with the history and beauty of the terminal and you have a must visit fly-in destination.

  2. Rod Smith says:

    Gotta be my favorite it is the alpha and the omega of airport resturants,so many memories,so many years!

  3. RayLRiv says:

    That flight school mentioned in the article was what eventually became Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Forever an Eagle!

  4. Joe Rosenberger says:

    For decades on end, I lunched at the venerable Sky Galley, back when a married couple both named Kim ran it. It was always a friendly place with a great ambiance and hearty portions. Sunday brunch was an institution. I moved to California years ago, and truly miss this aspect of Cincinnati’s rich history of both aviation and the culinary arts. Any pilot worth his private ticket ought to touch down at LUK for some great grub and amiable chat. How I miss this place!

  5. Lin Manning says:

    Great to keep hearing that the Sky Galley is still going so well. Just after a friend and I qualified to drive we visited it in the evening to hear and watch Gene Sheppard and his Jazz Disc Jockey show, on WSAI. We had to sit in back, we were not old enough to drink. This was the early ’50’s. Gene went on to be a music cult guru in New York. Few are alive to remember when he was “Old Shep” running the “Hillbilly Hit Parade” on WCKY.

    My friend went on to a Trumpet Degree at The Cincinnati Conservatory and a career in teaching music in New Mexico and Iowa and is now retired playing Jazz gigs. I had “The Knack” as the recent funny Email said and became an Engineer. UC of course.

    One more story. A recently departed and sorely missed B-17 pilot, 35 missions over Eastern Germany had used “Sunken Lunken” in his cross country pilot training. Maybe someone should write a book on that, or maybe they did. We went to EAA in’04 and we had a long talk with a pilot who flew cover for him, Robin Olds. History of flying has become a real interest these days. Proud to have called a fellow named Zemke and his son friends, the son is still close, Hub Sr. gone too.

    I’ve been to Lunken a few times visiting home from my base in the far west in my old Mooney. I’m afraid the next time will be in the big bird.

    Y’all keep up the tradition!

  6. Eric Schlanser says:

    Free parking? Better check on that. It’s been a few years, but I went once and received a bill in the mail for parking my plane there while I went in to the restaurant for lunch.

  7. Here is a short video of a quick trip and landing at Lu
    nken and rolling up to Sky Galley Restaurant. When the author says that the controller is friendly, he’s not kidding. Always professional and always as accommodating as the circumstances will allow. Watch the video and you’ll see for yourself what a great airport Lunken really is. Enjoy.

    http://youtu.be/pfwWnMwr_pc