By Ruth KingslandFebruary 9, 2017
A one-of-a-kind dining facility opened Wednesday on Lewis North at Joint Base Lewis-McChord -- the Pacific Cafe.
Soldiers filed past counters and refrigerated units with sandwich makings, various premade salads and hot foods such as hamburgers, turkey burgers, chicken wings and more. First Sergeant Scott Kelsey, 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Field Artillery Brigade, selected a turkey wrap as he made his way through the lunch line Wednesday -- the day of the grand opening.
"This is awesome," Kelsey said of the facility he and others in his unit helped create. "I'm going to like coming here about once a week with my Soldiers."
The Pacific Cafe is a unique facility on JBLM, according to Sgt. Maj. Kara Cassidy, food service sergeant major for the 7th Infantry Division. Cassidy oversees five dinning facilities on the installation, including the new Pacific Cafe.
What makes it unique, she said, is it's a grab-n-go cafe, open 11-and-a-half hours on weekdays and 10 hours on weekends. It also is an alcohol-free environment that offers pool tables, foosball, TVs and other amenities so service members have a place to come and relax and enjoy an inexpensive meal.
"We're changing the face of Army food service," Cassidy said.
The new cafe is at Building P12638 on Lewis North at the site of the former Cannons and Castles dining facility. The previous operation served up to 300 people during its open hours of 10 meals per week. The new facility will be open more and serves more than 21 meals each week, Cassidy said.
The Pacific Cafe was conceived, created and coordinated by members of the 17th Field Artillery Brigade and 555th Engineer Brigade, so it's a dining facility for current service members created by current service members, she said.
"The current demographic is different from when I was a young cook on the line," Cassidy said as to why this unique facility came to be. "There are more healthy options, such as wraps and entree salads. The new generation of service members wants something like this. This is a niche that hasn't been available before. There's plenty of fast food, but this is what young service members want."
The facility also serves a way to help Soldiers and others on the installation socialize -- an important aspect of life on base. Pacific Cafe accepts military meal card entitlements and cash and is open to the public, Cassidy said.
"Anyone can eat (at the cafe), but it is designed for what our (service members) need," she said.
Private Willie Willis, 1st Battalion, 94th Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Field Artillery Brigade, is a cook at the new facility. Dressed in white chef's attire, Willis beamed with pride as Soldiers walked past him during the opening of the cafe.
"It feels so good to finally open," he said. "I'm interested to see how the (service members) like it. I know I'm starting to even like the healthy foods, when I help make them."