Written by: Mark Ramirez | Photography by: Chris Redd, Chief Photographer
Gaylene Matian’s plane has finally flown in. Landing through an array of transfixed, translucent clouds and a fiery, glowing, setting sun, since June 1st, with a history of restauranteur-ing, a military based family, hard work and good fortune. Tail Winds Café at Sheltair Ocala International Airport has taken flight – figuratively speaking if course.
Sheltair at Ocala International is a prime example. Tail Winds Café, owned and operated by Gaylene Martian, is directly adjacent to Sheltair @ 1200 SW 60th Ave, contact at (352)873-3211. Now open 7 days a week, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., this unique aviation themed restaurant is located directly across from the airport’s main terminal, named Sheltair.
You literally are “one with the runway”. The view is spectacular, especially if you find multi-million dollar Lear Jets a sight to behold. The setting sun in the distance through a distinctive cloud pattern adds an ire to this truly distinctive setting. The place is simple and quaint, the sun glistening in through the windows. Old WWII patchwork adorns the cork board fixtures across from the bar counter, which seats about 12. Seating capacity of about 46 and an additional banquet hall holding 50 for special events makes for adequate space for patrons.
Previously Thyme Flies Bistro, Tail Winds Cafe has a new face. When Thyme Flies flew, Matian came to the rescue. “It was meant to be,” she said. “My ownership time had come.” She not only inherited a very capable head chef, but all the kitchen equipment, tables and chairs as well – rent and accessories included. Talk about a flying altitude of 36,000 feet! Martian was soaring sky high.
Burger lovers take off for Tail Winds! Try the Smokehouse Burger or Bella Vegetarian. Your taste buds will soar! Philly cheesesteak, veggie wrap or Cuban, you can’t go wrong with any of Tail Wind’s delicious menu options. Milkshakes you say? Yes! There are seven tempting flavor choices. Of course, there are desserts as well. And did I forget to mention that kid’s meals are a real deal, offering an adorable kid’s connect-the-dot menu with complimentary air plane toys?
Matian hasn’t missed a beat, She’s had fly-in guests such as Bill Elliot, Tony Stewart, Pete Carroll (ex-USC head coach, now with the Seattle Seahawks) and the director of the acclaimed movie, Avatar. When asked about her Florida Gator jersey she was wearing she said, “Oh yeah, the Tennessee Volunteers flew in a few weeks ago.” Fortunately, guests give advance notice and are served catering style in the banquet room.
I’ve tasted the food, I’ve scoured the place and tried to find fault, but couldn’t. The owner and I discussed how, like it or not, perception is reality and, generally speaking, most people who eat out will try a new eatery once. To get them back, you mustn’t slack. Martian agreed.
Stop by Tail Winds Cafe and say hello to Matian and Co. Come dressed casual for breakfast, lunch or dinner, served anytime! The food won’t disappoint. The atmosphere is simple, yet cheerful. Variety abounds and the prices are what you’d expect – most items between $7-$10 – and worth every penny. I wish Gaylene the best. She will succeed. Her work ethic is commendable. I live only a mile or so away and have found my new go-to gem. I’m glad I know about it and now you do too!
So take flight! It’s truly a dining delight.