Rise and Shine!

By Jim Roberts

Mom always said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and apparently many campers in the South 40 agree. Every morning they flock to the Vintage Aircraft Association’s Tall Pines Café to fuel up for the day’s AirVenture activities. They enjoy biscuits and gravy, pancakes, French toast, eggs and sausage, all washed down with piping hot coffee. Judging from their smiling faces and animated conversations, they’re nourishing friendships as well.

This year the Tall Pines Café celebrates 20 years as a favorite gathering spot, and it’s come a long way from the early days. In 2002, organizers set up a temporary kitchen and served diners under a tent beside a stand of pines near the EAA Seaplane Base bus stop.

Now located along Wittman Drive just north of the ultralight runway, the restaurant is housed in a modern permanent building, complete with a fully equipped kitchen and sheltered open air dining. Paul Kyle, VAA treasurer and Tall Pines Café volunteer, credits generous donors and Friends of the Red Barn, an annual VAA fundraiser, for financing the improvements.

Paul said the Tall Pines Café serves up to 700 meals on peak days. All proceeds fund VAA projects, including “Operation Quench,” which provides water and snacks to VAA flightline volunteers.

Open daily from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m., the restaurant is staffed by an enthusiastic corps of over 20 volunteers. One of these is Sue Luke, who comes from Pittsboro, North Carolina, with her husband, Richard. Richard often works on the serving line, while Sue is the unofficial “den mother,” ensuring everyone has a job and that they’re happy doing it. What she’s most excited about this year is that “We have a lot of new young faces in here volunteering. It’s good for young folks to give back, and they seem to be having a good time.”

So join them for the most important meal of the day. Mom would be proud.

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