Dieter Morszeck has wined and dined in places and with people that most of us can only imagine from following celebrities on social media. At one-time he was CEO of one of the most renowned handbag companies in the world, he owns a large vineyard in Portugal, and the aviation enthusiast is the head of a distinctive aircraft company that specializes in handcrafted small planes that are vintage in look and modern in features.

Now Morszeck can add Lakeland business owner to his list of accomplishments, as he and his staff celebrate the official opening of WACO Kitchen (pronounced wok-o, think “taco”) at Lakeland Linder International Airport on August 8. 

The opening of the restaurant is highly anticipated in part because it is the result of a comprehensive modern renovation that cost more than $3 million to overhaul a space that has been largely the same aesthetic for more than two decades. It also has potential to be further proof of the airport’s ascension as a key cog in the city’s development, which is currently most apparent because of Amazon Prime planes departing and arriving daily and the annual Sun ’n Fun Expo.

City officials, investors and restaurant staff celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 21. Included in this photo are owner Dieter Morszeck (second from right) and WACO Aircraft CEO Sven Lepschy (third from right.) Photo courtesy of Lakelander Linder International Airport.

“This is an exciting day and [the airport] is an economic driver for the entire city of Lakeland,” said city commissioner Sara Roberts McCarley at a ribbon-cutting ceremony last week.

Fresh salmon paired with a creamy sweet carrot sauce on al dente pasta is one of a handful of elegant seafood offerings at WACO Kitchen.

The restaurant is named after WACO Aircraft, the custom line of planes built by Morszeck’s company, and it is the second WACO Kitchen he is opening, an effort to emulate the success of WACO Kitchen at Battle Creek Executive Airport.

When you sit down to dine or enjoy a drink, with the panoramic view of the airport hangar as the backdrop, you will find a unique mix of American and European cuisine.

Some of intriguing appetizers include homemade Bavarian pretzels and French gougeres — pillowy layered cheese puff pastries.

Seafood lovers have ample options to try, including a grouper sandwich, grilled swordfish, and salmon pasta topped with a sweet and creamy carrot based sauce.

Standard American fare with a twist is also on the menu. The Barnstormer Burger includes gruyere cheese, bacon onion jam, tomato jam, arugula, mushrooms and WACO sauce, and steak frites is amongst its higher priced offerings.

All pastry items, aside from the brioche buns, are made from scratch in-house by a veteran baker. Her specialities include chocolate ganache cake, a southern rendition of strawberry shortcake that includes layered biscuits, and chocolate tarts with graham cracker crust.

The restaurant is waiting on its liquor license to be approved, but in the meantime patrons have six beers on tap to choose from and a wide selection of Portuguese wine from Quinta do Paral, the vineyard owned by Morszeck.

A current restaurant menu can be seen here, but it differs slightly from what executive chef Bart Shedd and his team have been serving up at invite-only lunches that are helping the team prepare for the grand opening on August 8.

All of the desserts at WACO Kitchen, including this southern take on strawberry shortcake are made from scratch. Photo courtesy of Brad Ruhmann.