FORT HOOD, Texas- Driving around Fort Hood at lunchtime can be a nightmare. Add the long lines of fast food restaurants to that and you've probably taken up your whole lunch hour.

But for the Soldiers of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, that will soon change as a new dining facility, known as the Black Jack Inn, is slated to open near their headquarters on the corner of 75th and Old Ironsides at the beginning of November.

"This is the best facility I've seen," said Spc. Tad Letourneau, a Sorrento, La., native and a cook with 2nd BCT who got a sneak peak at the facility, Sept. 16.

Letourneau and fellow cooks from 2nd BCT visited the dining facility to check out the new state-of-the-art equipment that will fill the kitchen.

"This is the same equipment that five-star restaurants and resorts use," said Sgt. 1st Class Nate Conley, a Miami native who will help run the facility when it opens.

Letourneau, who has worked at three other dining facilities since he joined the Army, said this was by far the most impressive.

"None of the others really compared," he said.

The Black Jack Inn will easily be one of the largest dining facilities on post after it opens.

The inn will also have a rather unusual feature: a drive thru window where Soldiers can order from a set menu and get food in a hurry.

According to Conley, the Black Jack Inn will seat about 550 people at one time, and aims to be able to serve 1,500 at meal times.

In addition to being big, Conley said he and his group of Soldiers will strive to make it the best place to eat on post.

"We're aiming to change the way food service is (in the Army)," said Conley.

According to Conley, in years past, Army dining facilities used to have a very limited menu with one meat, one starch and a vegetable. The Black Jack Inn will have a wide variety and lots of options for diners to choose from.

"We are modernizing so our food can compete with civilian food (service)," he said.

Soldiers that eat here will have a high-quality dining experience, he explained.

For the Soldiers of the Black Jack Brigade, the high-quality food won't be the only benefit; the new diner will be a lot closer to home for them.

"This is going to be right in our back yard," he said.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16