Sleet pelted my windshield as I crossed Martis Valley on my way to Northstar. The idea was to check out Earthly Delights for this installment of Java Jabber. The thought that I wouldn’t make it there never crossed my mind. I had no idea there were so many crazy people in Truckee. I’m not a die-hard snow bunny, so I’d never subject myself to propelling my body down a mountain on a flat board (or two) on such a soggy day. The line-up of cars was unbelievable. I had two options for parking, paying $40 to a valet or fighting my way up the serpentine parking lot to the ‘L’ section then walking all the way back down to the village without an umbrella. (Someday I’ll be able to expense a valet.) I chose Option C; different café. I drove back down 267, in my cozy car, to the Runway Café to get a scoop and a cup of coffee.

It was quiet in the dim light of the Truckee Tahoe Airport terminal, a far cry from the bustling junctions of O’Hare or LAX. The buzz of the refrigerator and an occasional burst of laughter from the kitchen were the only sounds emanating from the airport on that gray and blustery day. Not an airplane engine could be heard.

The café, with windows on three sides, has panoramic views of the mountains and valley. At the far end of the tarmac a bright orange wind sock is fully inflated, flying at a ninety degree angle in the driving sleet. I watched a pick-up truck slowly pull an airplane across the runway to the shelter of a hangar.


Construction workers, damp and bedraggled, found their way in to the café and helped themselves to some hot coffee. They sat at a table clutching their cups, allowing the steam to thaw out their faces, and stared into space. It is a decidedly different scene than the one on a summer afternoon when I ate a delicious turkey sandwich at a picnic table outside, planes landing and taking off every few minutes, people enjoying their lunch breaks in the sunshine and groups of pilots re-fueling for their next flights.

Amy Burke, the owner of Runway Café, which has now been open for seven years, told me she serves up to 80 lunches a day, mostly to local businesspeople and construction workers. She is open during the winter, weekdays, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., serving breakfast until 11:30 a.m. During the summer she opens weekends. She caters for offices and parties and also makes a lot of light (so as not to weigh down the airplanes) to-go lunches for people about to take off. ‘The people who fly in are not all Lahontan people. A lot of developers fly into Truckee Tahoe Airport and Safeway has a plane.’ She described a busy Friday afternoon when people ‘get off of their private jets with their golf bags, dogs and kids. In the winter,’ she added, ‘it’s skis.’

So, other than Amy, and one server, who were feeding cold and hungry construction workers I was the only one I found working at the Runway Café that morning. I’ve found a beautiful, quiet (on blustery days) new place to write and to dream of traveling.

y the way, Amy is expecting a baby girl in early February, and could use some reliable help at the Café.

To view this week’s specials visit, Runway Café is located inside the Truckee Tahoe Airport terminal, 10356 Truckee Airport Road off of 267, 582-9352.


  • Kira Catanzaro

    Kira Catanzaro is a writer and renaissance woman deeply committed to connecting with spirit through meditation, creative arts, and the wonders of nature. She wrote for Moonshine Ink from 2006 to 2012.

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