Fans of the old Ding-A-Ling — or getting a bite to eat at the Hollister Municipal Airport — should take notice: The city is renovating the former restaurant building on the airport grounds to lease the space for another eatery.
The small structure at 155 Skyland Drive near the airport office was built in 1942 as a Navy-owned structure. Most memorably for locals these days, though, it had been home to the Ding-A-Ling breakfast restaurant for many years followed by a short-lived successor establishment when Ding-A-Ling moved to Fourth Street.
It’s been closed in recent years and badly in need of refurbishment, which the city is now providing.
The city-owned and funded airport in the past couple years has been planning and now executing that renovation — with the building in need of repairs to plumbing, floors, painting, the roof, air conditioning and more in order to bring the small structure up to code.
Now the city is within months of a scheduled completion, and several possible tenants already have shown interest, officials told San Benito Live.
“There are absolutely a few tenants that have shown interest,” said Mike Chambless, who runs the airport and public works for the City of Hollister.
Chambless has been working under guidance from the Hollister Airport Advisory Commission on the fixes, with the item regularly showing up on the panel’s meeting agenda. Though Chambless didn’t immediately have a total dollar amount available right before the Labor Day weekend, there are some significant costs involved such as $15,000 just for a new ventilation hood, as noted in minutes from a May airport advisory commission meeting.
Mayoral candidate and Airport Advisory Commissioner Gordon Machado has long been a champion of the city airport, and said local officials have been planning a rehab to the old Ding-A-Ling building for the past couple years.
Machado mentioned how small airplane owners and hobbyists enjoy traveling to a place like the Hollister Municipal Airport on weekdays and weekends to have lunch and head back home.
“That’s a big asset to a small municipal airport,” Machado said. “That’s the big reason why we want to revamp it without going overboard.”
Machado said airport commissioners have been approving repairs in piecemeal fashion, while Chambless said he could provide a total figure on costs when he returns from a break next week.
Machado said the restaurant did “very well” as the Ding-A-Ling and also under another name and ownership before that. It didn’t do quite as well under its most recent ownership after the Ding-A-Ling moved out, while the Ding-A-Ling eventually closed its location on Fourth Street as well.
At the latest airport advisory meeting in late August, commissioners were talking about having the restaurant building ready to rent out in a month or two, Machado said.