By Estella R. Fullmer
For Hometown News
NEW SMYRNA BEACH -- The opening of the new DC-7 Grille at New Smyrna Beach's municipal airport is drawing closer.
Dan Johns and Anthony "Skip" Perna were at the city's Plan Review Board meeting June 7 to work out some final construction details.
"We don't have an exact date on the opening of the restaurant just yet, but it should be very soon," said Mr. Johns, a representative of the owners, brothers Danny and Skip Perna.
"We have all the permits to set the kitchen in place except for one and we don't foresee any problems with that," he said after the meeting.
The restaurant at 600 Skyline Drive is a converted 1956 American Airlines Airfreight DC-7 passenger plane, call numbers N381AA, which flew more than 32,856 hours. It has seating for 40 people inside, but owners will now have to remove one double table at the rear of the plane to allow easier egress in case of an emergency to comply with the Plan Review Board's requirements.
At the board meeting, Mr. Johns questioned if the standard traffic analysis impact study would be necessary. The city code requires a traffic analysis if there is an intersection within a quarter mile on either side of the restaurant's driveway. Since there are no intersections that close, Mr. Johns requested the requirement be waived. The board members decided city staff would need to review the code and get an answer back to the Perna family about the traffic analysis.
Another issue was using ground shells or recycled asphalt for the parking lot. Board members stated they could only use ground material up to a certain number of parking spaces. They said the building plan is just over that limit and suggested reducing the number of parking spaces as long as they can still maintain the required number needed for the restaurant's seating capacity. Mr. Johns asked what the exact numbers of parking spaces are per the code. The board said city staff would supply those numbers and get back to him.
The Perna family wants to use recycled ground asphalt because it is cheaper than a hard asphalt surface and recycling the material is environmentally smart. One board member was concerned about the possibility of toxins in the rain water run-off and asked about the environmental study supplied by the developer. Mr. Johns explained there is a filtration system on the storm water drains for the parking lot that should filter out any toxins that could be in the crushed asphalt. The asphalt is also cleaned prior to installation. The water flows into a ditch along the side of the parking lot that contains filters and then flows into a retention area where it will be treated further. The board members reviewed the environmental impact study on the area and determined the crushed asphalt would be satisfactory as long as they reduced the number of parking spaces as per the city code.
In an earlier meeting there was a question about the head height inside the plane along the curved walls. Mr. Perna pointed out the height at the beginning of the curve on each side is 6 feet 8 inches and well above the 6 foot ceiling requirement. They also plan a standard air conditioning unit that will be placed behind the kitchen out of sight and will serve the plane and the kitchen.
The kitchen is a pre-fabricated building already on location that still needs to be set in place and tied down once the final permit from the city has been issued. Board members pointed out the building must be set in concrete and not on blocks and secured to withstand up to 130 mph winds. Mr. Johns was aware of the requirement and assured board members it would be secured correctly.
The details for the power and the electricity to the kitchen and the plane were ironed out at the meeting and Mr. Perna agreed to use more variety in the landscaping and light the entire area around the plane and kitchen for better safety and security. The Perna family must present the city with a revised Developer's Agreement and then the Plan Review Board's next step is to give its recommendations to the city Planning Manager for approval of the building permit. Mr. Johns expects the set-up of the kitchen to go swiftly as soon as they have the green light to proceed.
In an effort to raise money for the renovations to the plane, the owners offered a $125 signature 5-course dinner prepared by Chef Skip Perna. Sponsors not only got a great meal, but also will have personalized plaques installed on the plane and a certificate of authenticity.
Once open Chef Perna plans to serve traditional classic dinners with fresh produce and seafood at reasonable prices. The Perna family hopes the DC-7 Grille will become a New Smyrna Beach landmark and will receive business not only from those flying in and out of the airport, but from locals and tourists as well because it will be a unique dining experience.