The Warrior Inn Dining Facility opened its doors for the first time in three months Aug. 16 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony before lunch.
After undergoing a $750,000 renovation with funds available through the Directorate of Public Works, the facility now features new tiling, paint, storage space, three TVs, male and female restrooms, an expanded dining area and a conference room.
The upgrade also included safety measures such as fire code updates, security cameras and a new heating, air and ventilation system, said CPT Benjamin Becker, plans officer for the 11th Engineer Battalion’s Forward Support Company, 11th Engineer Battalion, which oversees the facility.
The Warrior Inn won best installation dining facility of the year last fall, Becker said.
“We’re just going to make it that much better,” he said. “Anything that makes it feel like home when you’re not in the field … is definitely a morale-booster.”
The dining facility, which regularly supports the 11th Engineer Bn., the 14th Combat Support Hospital, the 13th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion and the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, can serve as many as 600 Soldiers during the course of the day.
PV2 Jordan Russell, one of the Soldiers who eats three meals a day there, said he agrees with the sign outside the Warrior Inn that names it the “best dining facility” on post.
“I believe it’s even more so (now),” he said. “Doing this is just another step up.”The building, which hadn’t been renovated since its creation in 1995, will also get new décor and pictures on the wall soon, in an effort to continue to improve the dining environment, said CPT Gregory Wynn, food service officer.
“Your meal times are your primary break times during the day, and the better the food you get the more relaxation you get. The nicer it looks the better you feel,” he said.
“Every Soldier is involved in the dining facility. Each company has their special mission, but the dining facility is the only thing that affects everyone, so an upgrade to that really makes the Forward Support Company proud because we can better serve every single Soldier.”
The environment you eat in “matters a lot,” said 1LT Jason Dence, who came out for the grand opening.
“It screamed early 90s before,” he said. “It looks a lot more professional now.”Along with providing a great dining environment, the goal of the Warrior Inn, Wynn said, is to provide quality nutrition to every Soldier who dines there, in keeping with Army regulations.
“We would like to provide the nutritional value the Army requires in the best package, the best taste that we can possibly achieve,” he said. “As long as I’ve been in this battalion we’ve always had a salad bar; that’s something most of the Soldiers enjoy. We also provide a cooked vegetable with every meal. So we try to give the best meals that meet the standard nutritionally.”
Along with the DPW renovation, the Warrior Inn received new features and appliances from other Army facilities that closed down, including a new rotisserie, salad bar, chili bar and stoves.
SFC Angela Morton-Bey, the dining facility manager, said providing a “healthy balance” is crucial.
“We have a salad bar with 10 to 12 items,” she said. “Variety is very important. We want to catch everybody, not just a select number of people. They need a well-balanced, nutritious meal to be able to get up and go do the job we do on a daily basis. They need that fuel and that’s what we provide for them.”
The health-driven fuel includes whole-grain breads, lean meats like baked chicken and fish, fresh produce and low-fat dairy options, Morton-Bey said.The Warrior Inn’s next objective is to win the Philip A. Connelly Award, which judges excellence in food service for all Army dining facilities.
“I’m excited,” she said. “We just want to be the best dining facility.”