Excellent food at pre-pandemic price points

The Apron takes off at Knox County Regional Airport

Tue, 04/25/2023 - 1:00pm

    OWLS HEAD—Though the Knox County Regional Airport may be far away from the downtown Rockland dining scene, the fast-casual eatery called The Apron at Terminal A located inside the terminal is hoping to cement itself as a social and cultural hub in the coming months.

    Matthew Stilphen, owner of The Apron, is a one-man operation with a simple philosophy: Make good food at prices working people can afford. The space is designed to be a food truck without wheels.

    A former reporter for the Coastal Journal, The Lincoln County News, and Boothbay Register, Stilphen has always enjoyed being a home cook with a concentration on slow-cooked, smoked meats such as brisket and BBQ.

    “Whenever I travel, I always try to find interesting, off-the-beaten-path food choices such as food trucks and street cooking,” he said. “That was my main interest.  I just love cooking for people.”

    His menu features breakfast and lunch with daily specials and local beer. The location of the restaurant determined that the restaurant needed to be open to early morning travelers. Some of the menu items are a nod to the aviation industry, such as The Pam Am breakfast sandwich, made with two over-medium eggs, sharp cheddar cheese, and a choice of bacon and sausage on a butter-toasted Brioche roll.

    The Harriet Quimby Memorial salad, an organic mixed greens and quinoa salad, is a tribute to the first woman in America to earn her pilot’s license.

    “Her great nephew actually saw this salad named after her and flew into the airport to try it,” he said.

    Stilphen’s burger, tacos, and fried chicken sandwich have all been a hit with passing travelers and locals who come in just for the food. With inflation at a 40-year high and the after effects of COVID-19 still influencing higher menu prices across the country, it’s a refreshing surprise to find well-made sandwiches, burgers, and salad around $10. He’s also expanding his gluten-free menu.

    “I think that it’s important to keep prices approachable without sacrificing any of the quality,” he said. “I source my ingredients as locally as possible.” 

    Stilphen, a writer and creative person himself, additionally wants to position The Apron as a happy hour spot, featuring local author talks and live music from 4 to 7 p.m. each week. The concept dovetails nicely with the airport expansion into a community-focused facility.

    “With the beer we offer, it’ll feel more like a tap room experience,” he said. “More things will come on the menu such as soft pretzels and charcuterie. I just envision this being a place for creatives to connect, maybe hear a talk on ornithology from an expert or whatever subject is regional and connects with the people.”

    He plans to kick that off Memorial Day Weekend.

    The Apron at Terminal A is open for the 2023 season Tuesday-Friday 8-2 and Saturdays from 8-12. Located inside the Knox County Airport in Owls Head and has free WiFi for those just passing through.

    For more information, visit their Facebook page.

    Kay Stephens can be reached at news@penbaypilot.com