The Proud Bird Restaurant — a stone’s throw away from Los Angeles International Airport — has been an institution for more than 50 years and is enjoying a new liftoff with its food-bazaar format.

In 2017, second-generation owner John’s dad Tallichet converted the traditional dining room into six different express restaurants, where you can pick up chicken and waffles, pizza, burgers, salads, Chinese entrees — and signature restaurant Bludso’s BBQ, a staple in the South Bay for years. Big-screen TVs display current sports events.

On Sunday from 12-3 pm., the Bird serves up a $29.95 buffet. Patrons can enjoy such regular menu items as brisket, pulled pork and pizza — plus made-to-order omelette and pasta stations, as well as tri-tip and Korean ribs. Non-alcoholic drinks are included in the price.

This month, Tallichet unveiled a new children’s play area in the site’s airplane park.

“Now families can come in and spend all day,” said Rebecca Winters, restaurant manager for the past three years. “Parents can get something to eat or grab a drink from the bar and watch there children have fun and see the planes flying in overhead all day long.”

Opened in 1967 by John’s dad, David Tallichet, the restaurant offered fine dining for aerospace executives and travelers, movie stars and moguls, all in LAX’s shadow. The high-end aura came complete with filet mignon and lobster, white-linen tablecloths and tuxedo-clad servers. It was often booked solid with banquets, proms, and weddings.

Tallichet, a World War II fighter pilot, populated the lot with vintage aircraft and filled the walls with vintage aviation photos and memorabilia, as well as snapshots of celebrities. A special section was dedicated to the Tuskegee Airmen, an elite group of African-American WWII fighter pilots. A handful of Tuskegee Airmen still frequent the restaurant today.

But then the aerospace industry ebbed, the eatery showed its its age.

John took charge after his father’s death in 2007 and he found himself snarled in a long-term lease agreement feud with the city. After he announced he was closing up shop, Tallichet said the community banded together to keep the Bird open.

“When we announced that the restaurant was closing, there was an outpouring of support from the community,” the younger Tallichet said. “We were contacted by the Los Angeles Historical Society about making it a historical landmark and in 2015 we signed a 20-year lease with the city to keep the Proud Bird open.”

So far, the renovations have gotten a largely positive reception.

On a recent weekend, Jill Farrell of El Segundo brought her two sons Wyatt, 4, and Oliver, 2, to check out the new look. “It’s beautiful, I love it. It’s a great wide-open space for my kids to play and we can walk around and see all the planes, too,” she said.

“It’s pretty neat, I did not expect all of this to be here,” said Cody Bouchez, who came by for a bite to eat before boarding a flight to Hawaii. “We will probably come back here when we get back, too. The food is really good.”

If you go

The Proud Bird, 11022 Aviation Blvd., Los Angeles

Lunch: Monday-Friday 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; Saturday 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Dinner: Sunday-Thursday 5 p.m.-8 p.m.; Friday & Saturday 5 p.m.-9 p.m.

Mile High Club Bar and Lounge: Monday – Thursday 11:30 a.m. – 9 :00 p.m.; Friday 11:30 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.; Saturday 11:00 a.m. – 11: 00 p.m.; Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Information: 310-670-3093 or www.theproudbird.com

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