Sun King’s new airport taproom is open. But Shake Shack is delayed.

As the pandemic grounds progress on new concessions at Indianapolis International Airport, Sun King’s new taproom is ready to take off.

The Indianapolis-born brewing company held a grand opening for its sixth location on Friday.

Mario Rodriguez, executive director of the Indianapolis Airport Authority, said the award-winning brewer is a great fit for the award-winning airport.

“They’re world class,” he said. “They compete on the world stage, and they win awards all the time.”

Clay Robinson, left, and Dave Colt, founders and CEOs of Sun King Brewing Co., show their new Sun King Tap Room location at Indianapolis International Airport, Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. The business was supposed to open in March 2020 but was delayed because of the pandemic.

The 1,000-square-foot taproom features 16 Sun King beers, including rotating seasonal and specialty beers. Wine and more than 10 cocktails also fill the menu.

Food options include soups, salads and sandwiches. It’s family-friendly, with a grilled cheese with chips or fruit on the menu for your kids.

“They have a fabulous menu,” Rodriguez said. “Everything they do is really high quality.”

The space is currently expanded to allow extra room for seating while maintaining social distance rules. The restaurant is located behind security in Concourse B, but it is accessible from Concourse A, as well.

The airport is in the process of refreshing its concession options, and Rodriguez said there’s a lot of work being done behind the scenes to bring new restaurants and stores to travelers.

The Smokeshack and Shackburger from Shake Shack

Eighteen new stores, most of which are retail, have opened at the airport as part of the changeover that began last year. Six are temporarily closed.

One of the on-the-way spots that has Hoosiers talking is Shake Shack, a “modern roadside burger stand” partly inspired by Steak ‘n Shake.

Shake Shack: What to know about the burger place coming to Fishers, airport

Rumors of its arrival floated in March 2019, and early plans called for a summer 2020 launch, but the pandemic extended the runway. Rodriguez said Shake Shack is now due for landing in the latter part of 2021.

“COVID has slowed us down. So the progress is very, very slow,” he said. “So, as passengers grow, they’ll see more and more concessions, but the passengers have to grow for concessions to be self-sustaining.”

The pandemic also has slowed a new Shake Shack location in Fishers, initially billed for late 2021.

At the airport, Rodriguez said the concessions are choosing to move slowly, but he said he understood the delay.

“We want to make sure they’re successful at the airport,” he said, “and we want to make sure that they don’t open their doors and suddenly close them the next day because they don’t have enough revenue coming in.”

Rodriquez said the airport has been thoughtful about choosing a good mix of local brands that represent Indiana well.

“Everybody got excited about Shake Shack,” he said, “and I go, OK, that’s fine. You have a great product, but wow local products are fantastic here in Indiana.”

Circle City Beer Garden, Indiana Pacers Courtside Club and a local farmers market are scheduled to bring that local taste to the airport, though exact opening dates aren’t known due to the pandemic. 

The "Big Ugly" from Bub's Burgers and Ice Cream

Bub’s Burgers, based out of Carmel, is another local restaurant Rodriguez is excited to see at the airport. It will join other local spots Shapiro’s and Harry & Izzy’s, which is expanding.

More than anything, he wants out-of-towners to experience Hoosier hospitality from places Hoosiers already love.

“I’m more excited that passengers coming in, that have never come to Indiana, the first impression will be an Indiana-centric impression,” Rodriguez said. “Coming in, they’ll get the taste of Sun King and their high-quality products. I’m excited about that, about basically introducing our customers to Indiana, right off the bat.”

Contact IndyStar transportation reporter Ethan May at emay@indystar.com or 317-402-1058. Follow him on Twitter: @EthanMayJ.