Landing Zone renovations take diners back to the future
Maj. Gen. Kevin W. Mangum, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, and Col. Stuart J. McRae, garrison commander, along with special guest Ed Woody and the Fort Rucker team who handled all of the renovations, cut the ribbon of The Landing Zone during a re-opening ceremony Oct. 4.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (October 10, 2013) -- It has been more than 20 years since Aviator's Landing was transformed into The Landing Zone restaurant for all ranks, but this time around, instead of updating who is allowed in the restaurant, it expanded its menu and atmosphere.

The renovations lasted two months, and through the ups and downs of the project Tim Carter, The Landing Zone programs manager, said he couldn't be happier with how everything turned out.

"The space looks like it was designed for something like this," he said. "It's Aviation all over. Everywhere you look is a reminder of this Branch; there is even rust on the hangar doors."

The dining areas are now separated by hangar doors, which allow for private parties to book the back area for hails and farewells or promotion parties, while allowing the front area to be smaller and provide a more intimate dining ambience.

"The design is more rustic and nostalgic with a d├ęcor that features Aviation history through the years," said Frank Zerbinos, business operations officer. "It will be a place to take Families and friends to embrace the history."

Carter agreed and added that the restaurant has a better feel, because when the hangar doors are closed it makes the space feel more "homey."

Tables were covered in butchers block paper as people dug into hamburgers, nachos and salads once the kitchen opened up after the ceremony.

There are a few new things on the menu, such as barbeque and jumbo spud sections in the lunch menu, and hand-cut steaks and platters for dinner.

"We have come up with unique sandwiches for lunch and dinner, so people will have more options," said Carter. "But in all, we just wanted to update the facility, and offer a different atmosphere and make the restaurant more flexible."

Janice Erdlitz, Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation marketing director, was one of The Landing's first customers, and said the menu's updated macaroni and cheese dish is her favorite.

"I am really satisfied with how it looks now. Its atmosphere is so much better than it was before. It is a beautiful transformation; it brings it back to the old Camp Rucker feel," she said, adding that the food was absolutely delicious, too.

This renovation was just an update to the space, as five years ago it had a major overhaul with walls coming down.

"We did more of a facelift with new flooring, wall coverings, equipment, seating and such," said Carter. "It was nothing structural; everything was just replaced and redone. It was an empty shell while we were updating, though."

The bar is in the same position, but that is the only thing that did not change about the space.

The renovation was funded by private business money, non-appropriated fund money, and the entire staff was placed at other installation positions during the renovation, said Carter, so no one lost their jobs.

Col. Stuart J. McRae, garrison commander, said that it was really exciting to see what started as an idea about a year ago finally come to fruition.

"This exceeds expectations. We want to continue to have a vibrant operation inside The Landing Zone," he said.

Page last updated Thu October 10th, 2013 at 00:00