Business

Spirit of San Luis restaurant at SLO airport to get new owners

Adam Verdin, right, his wife Mary and Adam’s sister Eva (not pictured) are buying the Spirit of San Luis restaurant at the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport from Doug and Julie Wagnon. They’re pictured in front of Adam Verdin’s vintage biplane.
Adam Verdin, right, his wife Mary and Adam’s sister Eva (not pictured) are buying the Spirit of San Luis restaurant at the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport from Doug and Julie Wagnon. They’re pictured in front of Adam Verdin’s vintage biplane. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

The Spirit of San Luis restaurant may soon have new owners.

Mary, Adam and Eva Verdin are in escrow to purchase the restaurant from Doug and Julie Wagnon, who have owned and operated the establishment at the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport for 30 years.

The Wagnons first announced plans to sell the business last year, saying they were looking forward to retiring and “getting fresh ideas and younger people” in to manage the restaurant.

At the time, the Wagnons said they weren’t in a hurry to sell, and would wait for the right offer.

They are just exceptionally nice, honest people. We couldn’t have handpicked anyone better than them to take on the business.

Doug Wagnon, Spirit of San Luis owner

The right offer finally came along in the form of the Verdins, Doug Wagnon said Thursday.

“We just feel so fortunate to have Adam and Eva and Mary — we’ve known Adam and Eva now for more than 20 years,” he said. “We really watched them grow up. They are just exceptionally nice, honest people. We couldn’t have handpicked anyone better than them to take on the business.”

Wagnon decline to disclose the purchase price for the business.

Brother-and-sister team Adam and Eva Verdin co-own Old Juan’s Cantina in Oceano, which their father opened in 1976. Mary Verdin, Adam’s wife, is president of Verdin, a local marketing agency.

Mary Verdin said the trio decided to purchase the Spirit of San Luis in July, after hearing that the Wagnons’ latest effort to sell the business had fallen through.

“Adam and I eat at the Spirit regularly, and I was asking Julie how the sale was going,” she wrote in an email to The Tribune. “She sighed and said it fell out of escrow, wasn’t happening. I mentioned it to Adam and he said, ‘I'm going to go have coffee with Doug.’ ”

Mary Verdin said part of their interest in the business is its aviation theme: Adam Verdin began flying when he was 15 years old, she said, and was a corporate pilot for more than 20 years.

The trio expect to close escrow by the end of the year. They also are in talks with the airport for the restaurant’s lease.

The sale comes at a pivotal time for the airport. After nearly three decades next to the airport terminal, the Spirit of San Luis could soon stand on its own.

Construction began this month on a new $35.4 million passenger terminal that will be built farther back from the runway to fit with Federal Aviation Administration standards. The new terminal is expected to take about 18 months to complete.

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie

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