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News > Commentary - Straight Talk: Eating establishments on base
Straight Talk: Eating establishments on base

Posted 8/10/2011   Updated 8/10/2011 Email story   Print story


Commentary by Col. Stacy L. Yike
66th Air Base Group commander

8/10/2011 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- Summer calendars are filling up. I hope you are getting in some much needed vacation days to de-stress and spend time with family. If you are staying in town, next week offers lots of events, starting with the housing resident's meeting (CIM) Tuesday, Family Night - with juggling - at the Commons on Wednesday, Hearts Apart for deployed families Thursday and a Patio Party Friday at the Commons with beer tasting and rolling stogies.
This week's Straight Talk comment is about Duke's Bar & Grill. Read on:

Comment: Duke's Bar & Grill, the newest food establishment on the base, is missing the mark. My husband and I tried the new grill and were very frustrated to experience extremely poor service and poor food quality. The service took much too long, as you cannot get a lunch during your lunch break within a reasonable amount of time. In addition, the trash barrels were overflowing by 11:20 a.m. The food quality was absolutely horrible, in particular, their so-called special chicken sandwich and specialty subs.

I have been eating at the base for more than 15 years and was shocked to see A.P. Pizza gone. They had extremely good service, good quality and good prices. Did anyone think to ask the residents of the base and personnel who ate there regularly what they thought of removing AP Pizza, before moving in a new caterer just because they offered the base a little more in profit? Does more profit now outweigh the quality of the food, the quality of service and customer satisfaction?

It is frustrating that my family and I used to get a decent pizza, sub or salad on base and now it is taken over by a grill that has horrible quality food and service. I know I am not the only customer who feels this way. The grill was filled with many annoyed and angry customers the same day I was there. I don't know what happened to the good quality standards the base used to uphold, but it is sad to see them disappear one by one.

Response: I am sorry to hear that your first experience was not positive. I was hesitant to address this, as I believe your comments are several weeks old and I am not sure if they are still valid. I am getting quite behind on my responses. However, I wanted to assure you that these concerns are being addressed by AAFES with Duke's management staff. The AAFES command chief was here recently and we discussed these issues. Everyone is committed to improving service to you. We did experience several issues in the first few weeks, but I believe Duke's has improved the situation.

Specifically, AAFES wanted to address two of your comments:

"Did anyone think to ask the residents of the base and personnel...before moving in a new caterer just because they offered the base a little more profit?"

AAFES values their customers' opinions. When it was time to renew the contract for this establishment, the opportunity was offered to many. AAFES uses a standard process to evaluate bids based on many factors using demographics, projected sales and other food options on base. They do not rely on a "profit to the exchange" criteria.

"Does more profit now outweigh the quality of the food, the quality of the service, and customers' satisfaction?"

The short answer: never. AAFES takes all customer opinions into account.

Customer satisfaction is vital to Duke's success, so keep sending your comments. AAFES strives to increase food and service options to their customers. They return about 65 percent of profits back to Hanscom's morale, welfare and recreation activities, so their success is critical to everyone.

The stir fry rice and the chipotle wrap are both top sellers at Duke's. Go give one a try!

8/11/2011 3:10:40 PM ET
After having read the Straight Talk complaints and answers I must say I'm embarrassed to read most of these. They're agonizingly painful to read and the vast majority seem to be trivial. Are there not more important things to discuss like true mission impact issues? How are these complaints being handled through the chain of command before they appear on the website or in the base paper? How are the comments screened beforehand? I'm hoping that the Straight Talk forum isn't used as a sole area for people to gripe anonymously. Let's all be adults.
Concerned Military Member, Boston
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