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The Jet Room at Wisconsin Aviation had been owned by Pat and Pam O'Malley for the past 20 years.

CAP TIMES FILE PHOTO

Pat O'Malley, who with his wife, Pam, just sold the popular Jet Room restaurant, admits 20 years was a good run.

"Yeah, that must be my limit. I was 20 years in Waunakee almost to the day, and 20 years at the Jet Room now, too. I've got 40 years of breakfast under my belt," O'Malley said.

Before opening the Jet Room in 1997, Pat and Pam ran O'Malley's Farm Kitchen in Waunakee.

In an agreement worked out with new owner Nic Tarczynski, the O'Malleys will spend six months training Tarczynski on site and helping him make the transition.

For the six months that follow, the O'Malleys will act as consultants and Tarczynski will be able to contact them by phone.

Tarczynski, whose background is in finance, not restaurants, is keeping the Jet Room's name, aviation-themed menu, staff, and breakfast and lunch hours.

"That's the idea," Tarczynski said. "There's a lot of good will in Pat O'Malley's name. The reputation and brand has been built over these last 20 years right at Wisconsin Aviation. So there's really no reason to change anything in my mind."

The full name is Pat O'Malley's Jet Room, and even the "Pat O'Malley's" part stays, Tarczynski, 39, said.

Tarczynski wouldn't say whether he has business partners or not. "The ownership structure was not disclosed," he said by text.

Once Tarczynski is up to speed, O'Malley said he's going to "take a big, deep breath" and then he and Pam are going to spend some time traveling the country, possibly by motor home.

Pat O'Malley's Jet Room, 3606 Corben Court, is an airport restaurant, but it sits across the field from the Dane County Regional Airport, in the Wisconsin Aviation Terminal Building off Highway 51. It was a restaurant for about 60 years before the O'Malleys bought it.

Diners, many of whom arrive by plane, get a clear view of the runway. O'Malley, a pilot himself, has enjoyed seeing so many unique, unusual airplanes over the years, along with the celebrities and politicians who fly into the terminal. "It makes it fun for our customers," he said.

He's glimpsed former president Bill Clinton when he came into Madison to campaign for his wife, Hillary Clinton. Air Force One brought in former president Barack Obama. Vice president Mike Pence came in during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Shania Twain and Robert Redford were sighted passing by the restaurant, while both Danny DeVito and Sarah Palin came in and got pictures with staff.

Not too many celebrities or politicians come into the restaurant to eat, because typically they're whisked off for performances, meetings or events. Often O'Malley will cater food that's brought onto flights.

The Jet Room can't be duplicated, O'Malley said. "It's just a terrific location."

He'll miss the many friendships he's made with customers over the years. "Coming to work is kind of like throwing a party every day, if you will."

Tarczynski, meanwhile, is a UW-Madison graduate, who's worked in banking for the past 16 years. "I've always had the entrepreneurial spirit," he said, adding that he's long wanted to be in business for himself.

The best course is to carry on "Pat and Pam's legacy," he said.

"If you didn't know about the Jet Room, you have to experience it. But once you have that experience, you know that it's just an amazing place," Tarczynski said.

Read more restaurant news at go.madison.com/restaurantnews.

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Wisconsin State Journal food writer Samara Kalk Derby brings you the latest news on the Madison area's eclectic restaurant scene.