Matchbook Memories: The Skyline Restaurant and Piano Lounge in New Smyrna Beach

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Skyline Matchbook

The Skyline was a restaurant and piano lounge in New Smyrna Beach, not a city known for its skyline. But it was named not for a view of tall buildings but rather for its location at the New Smyrna Beach airport.

It was arguably the most upscale restaurant in town, though there weren’t a lot of restaurants vying for the title. Even when I reviewed it, in the Dec. 8, 1996, Orlando Sentinel, I noted that fine dining restaurants were becoming scarce. “The Skyline is a throw-back to the sort of restaurant that used to be described as continental, more for its atmosphere than its menu. Dining at the Skyline is like being transported back in time a bit, to when going out to dinner, even a simple dinner, meant putting on something a little dressier than jeans, sipping a cocktail before ordering and relaxing in the subdued hues of flickering candles while listening to a pianist playing Moon River.”

The Skyline occupied a building next to the airport that was an old officer’s club (meaning the club was old, not the officers). The menu featured items as ambitious as beef Wellington, bouillabaisse and coquilles St. Jacques.

There were a number of tableside presentation, too, most of them involving fire, such as steak Diane and baked Alaska flambé. But the most impressive presentation was its signature coffee.

For the coffee service, the waiter would peel an orange in one long strip then pour flaming liquid down its length into a coffee cup while holding the carafe above his head. Even a coffee refill was a theatrical feat with the hot liquid poured from high above the server’s head into the waiting cup far below. Sadly, it was the days before every diner had a video camera at the ready, so I can’t show you what it looked like.

In 1999, the owner of the Skyline moved that restaurant and his Italian restaurant, Franco’s, into Riverview Charlie’s but it was never the same.

Billy’s Tap Room, a popular Ormond Beach pub, opened an outpost there but the two locations proved too much for the owner. Abacos Seaside Grille moved in in 2003 but it was a disappointment. Today it’s home to Lost Lagoon Wings & Grill. I haven’t been, but I wonder if the Wings are a tie-in to the airport locale.

Skyline wasn’t the only area restaurant overlooking an airport. In fact the restaurant at the DeLand Airport for several years was known as having such a good burger that pilots would fly in special just to have one.

But of course the grandest airport restaurant was Hemisphere, which opened at Orlando International Airport 30 years ago. I mention it because there have been some changes there, and I’ll tell you about them later this week.

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