Flight Bar + Grille takes off in Huxley with a focus on from-scratch food and drink recipes
With a name and theme that’s an homage to the local Ballard High School Bombers, Flight Bar + Grille celebrates its grand opening Wednesday.
Married owners Matt and Marianne Pacha moved to Huxley in 2017 and fell in love with the community. They wanted to start a business that would be a positive place for locals to gather and also a destination for people from nearby communities to visit.
With a bar, full-service restaurant, covered patio and state-of-the-art golf simulators, Flight is one of developer Bella Commercial’s new construction projects on the north side of Huxley along Highway 69.
"We're really happy with how Flight turned out," Bella owner Chris Gardner said. "Once you're in here, it feels more like West Des Moines than Huxley."
Flight is a theme for the business in several ways – airplane decor, flights of golf, and flights of food and drink. Marianne Pacha said they plan to play with the menu on what types of flights are offered, including beer, wine and a special flight of made-from-scratch dips for Flight’s french fries.
A metal bomber cutout is an eye-catching piece of artwork at the front door. Matt’s uncle, Ray Pacha, designed and created the art, which is mounted at the entrance and is backlit even when the restaurant is closed, thanks to the work of Kurrent Electric, Marianne Pacha said.
More than 60 people have already signed up for Flight Crew, an annual membership program that offers a custom-engraved beer stein, one free beer a month, a T-shirt, 25% off Flight merchandise and 10% off drinks and food. The beer steins are kept on a display near the entrance.
“We are so happy to have so many people already signed up for our Flight Crew,” Marianne Pacha said. “It’s the power of living in a small town. Everyone has been so incredibly supportive.”
She gave the Ames Tribune a sneak peek tour of Flight in late February, prior to the soft opening for friends and family, which was held Friday.
The dining room is separated from the bar by a half-wall, allowing diners to be able to see the TVs there if they wish.
“We wanted to create a family-friendly atmosphere in the dining area and a place to have more focused conversation on this side,” Pacha said. “You can bring your kids or grandkids here, or you can come have a drink and watch sports on the bar side.”
A covered, heated patio overlooks the retention pond, and an adjacent greenspace will be a space for bags games and other outside activities.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better view,” Pacha said. “We’ll have string lights to make it really cozy.”
With 24 beers on tap, Flight offers the traditional domestics along with several craft beers, including some from local breweries like Exile, Big Grove and Barn Town.
“We have lots of different Iowa breweries that we’re looking forward to supporting,” Pacha said. “We also have Brandi Ubben’s line of wines. She’s from Huxley and has Vine’yl Anthem wines.”
Bar manager Aislinn Martin will have rotating features of specialty drinks.
“She makes in-house Bloody Mary mix. So we’ll have a regular Bloody Mary and a deluxe version,” she said. “Aislinn is making all of our sour mix in-house as well. She’s very passionate about making things from scratch – just thinks that it makes the difference.”
The kitchen is led by Katie Boughey, executive chef and kitchen manager, and Brady Flattery, sous chef and assistant kitchen manager.
Pachas want Flight to be a gathering place for the community
The Pachas can’t wait for people to come to Flight before and after Ballard sporting events.
“We went to a Ballard basketball game last week, and we were lovingly heckled with people saying, ‘We’re thirsty! We want to go to Flight after this,’” Pacha said with a laugh. “It’s so great that people are excited.”
There are thoughtful touches to the construction at Flight, such as changing tables in the women’s and men’s restrooms.
There’s an entrance in the front and the back of the building and parking is available in both areas. There’s an entrance from Fifth Street or from Highway 69 at the turn to Fareway.
Adjacent to Flight Bar + Grille is Flight Lounge, where customers can enjoy TruGolf golf simulators. With three stations available, golfers can also order food and drinks from the connected restaurant and bar.
“Our golf simulators can be rented on an hourly basis,” Pacha said. “We have a portal on our website you can click to reserve a tee time. You can reserve it for multiple hours in a row if you want to.”
In both the restaurant and the golf lounge, QR codes will allow customers to access the menu from their phones and order directly from the app.
“Our servers can walk you through it if you’re not sure how it works. Or we do have physical menus available,” she said. “We want it to be a good experience for everyone. It gives our servers a chance to focus on service rather than punching in orders.”
From pickles to sauces to hand-breaded tenderloins, Flight's focus is 'from scratch'
Ordering through the QR code gives customers the option to customize their orders.
“You can put a note like ‘no pickles,’ and it will pop up on a screen in the kitchen,” she said.
But, she said, you are going to want to try the pickles.
“The pickles are amazing,” Pacha said.
“They’re English cucumbers with a little bit of garlic and dill flavor and a little bit of heat, and we’re also doing pickled red onion – all made in-house,” Boughey said.
All of the sauces are also made from scratch.
As well, Flight’s menu includes a selection of smash burgers.
“Our Breakfast Burger brings a little spin. A sunny-side-up egg lays on top so it’s really pretty,” Boughey said. “It has a hot pepper-bacon jam underneath the egg and double patty smash burgers. We’ve got cheddar cheese on that and avocado smash on the bottom.”
The Foundation Burger, with a double patty, bacon, cheddar cheese and caramelized onions, will benefit the Ballard Education Foundation with $1 for every purchase.
The Fiesta Wrap features grilled chicken breast with house-made chipotle aioli and fresh corn salsa.
“We actually fire-roast the corn for the salsa and add tomatoes, jalapenos, cilantro, salt, pepper and lime juice,” Boughey said. “It’s really bright. The chipotle aioli brings a little bit of heat and a little bit of smoke to it, and then we serve it with a charred lime wedge, which adds brightness to it.”
Tenderloins are hand-cut and hand-breaded.
“The tenderloin has black pepper aioli on it,” Flattery said. “It has arugula on it to bring that pepper flavor forward. It’s a smaller cut with a light breading.”
Fried Brussels sprouts are served with a balsamic reduction, parmesan cheese and lemon zest.
The kitchen staff tasted dozens of varieties of french fries before deciding on what Pacha says is the perfect fry.
“There’s a little bit of a batter coating on shoestring cut potatoes,” Boughey said. “It’s a really light coating that gives a nice little crunch while still being tender inside.”
“We’ve been blown away when Katie and Brady started giving us things to taste,” Pacha said. “We knew they were exceptional. We wanted to have really good bar and grill food, but this is really high quality cuisine.”
Where to find Flight Bar + Grille
Address: 931 N. Highway 69, Huxley
Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.