Planes zoom down the runway just steps away from Pilot Pete's Restaurant & Bar, located inside the terminal at Schaumburg Regional Airport. When the mood is right, diners might almost imagine that Pete is in the cockpit himself, zipping off on an early-morning flight to an exotic locale. The eatery's tropical-themed walls and decor give a taste of his worldly travels: propellers, wooden parrots, and palm trees from his private collection of memorabilia showcase airborne voyages to more than 25 countries. A glance up to the corrugated-tin ceiling reveals a life-size, two-seater aircraft that looks like something that the Wright Brothers might have flown—or that the Marx Brothers might have crashed.
The cocktail list and menu transport diners to both domestic and international destinations. Chefs plate Caribbean-inspired dishes, such as a chopped cobb salad with jamaican jerk chicken, and American classics, such as the "$100 Hamburger"—a tribute to pilots who fly great distances for their favorite airport meals. The restaurant has been a popular spot with professional and amateur flight aficionados for more than a decade. Children can pretend to navigate in roomy, blue-velvet airliner seats, watch the runway, and respond to plane-engine sounds by reflexively opening their mouths for spoons.