Achievement House now operating SLO airport gift shop, snack bar

Sage Baker and Eli Aguilar of the Achievement House work at Runway Cafe in the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport.
Sage Baker and Eli Aguilar of the Achievement House work at Runway Cafe in the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the new concessionaire at San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport. It's called Runway Cafe.

Runway Cafe, San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport’s new concessionaire, is providing valuable work experience to local adults with special needs.

Achievement House, a nonprofit agency providing vocational opportunities and community living needs for developmentally disabled adults, took over operations of the gift shop and snack bar in January after the Board of Supervisors approved a multi-year contract with the organization in December.

As part of the agreement, the county is giving Achievement House a break on its first-year rent. It inserted a provision in the contract that says the organization will not have to pay rent for any month when gross receipts are less than $15,000.

Airport manager Richard Howell said the partnership is exciting because it is an opportunity to give back to the community.

The agency already takes care of much of the airport grounds, said Howell. This is one more way to help provide job training for members of the community while offering a service to travelers.

Achievement House operates Runway Cafe from 4:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 5 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Mike Metcalf, business services coordinator for Achievement House, said there is one job coach each shift who oversees the training of two to three vocational trainees. Through employment, Metcalf noted, individuals with developmental disabilities will gain more independence and self-esteem.

“AHI’s philosophy is that in order to be in an effective program, we must work in partnership with business such as the SLO County Airport so that individuals with disabilities can acquire work skills to make them more marketable for gainful employment,” said Metcalf.

So far, the feedback from customers and employees has been positive, he said. The nonprofit also provides customers and employees with a survey questionnaire to help determine what the traveling public and employees would like to see added to the gift shop and snack bar menu.