FORT STEWART, Ga. - A grand opening ceremony for Thunder Run, the contemporary, combination dining area and bar, which already is generating "oohs" and "ahhs" from guests who have sampled the food and enjoyed the environment, will be held at 10 a.m., Oct. 13.

Thunder Run replaces what once was Rockets Lounge in Club Stewart, building 405.

About $990,000 was spent to convert the 7,200-square-foot Rockets Lounge area into the up-to-date facility that will serve Fort Stewart Soldiers and their Families. Thunder Run is modeled after restaurant franchises such as Applebees, Ruby Tuesdays and Houlihan's, and will be operated by Club Stewart staff.

The grand opening ceremony will begin in the Club Stewart ballroom then move to the area in front of the doors to Thunder Run for the ribbon-cutting. Brigadier General Jeffrey Phillips, 3rd Infantry Division deputy commanding general-rear, is scheduled to speak.

The dining area/bar was named after 3rd ID actions in Iraq that ended in the capture of Baghdad. On April 5, 2003, the 3rd ID stunned the world with television images of tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles storming the streets of Baghdad in a probing action known as the first of two "Thunder Runs." The second Thunder Run moved 3rd ID's 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team into the government center of Baghdad.

Process Action Team helps create Thunder Run
A Process Action Team that included Family Members, enlisted Soldiers, civilian employees, and some Club Stewart staff played a key role in decisions about what type of restaurant facility would replace the Club's outdated Rockets Lounge.

"They brought to the table questions such as what is missing and what are we looking for as a community," said Alan Smith, chief of business activities and lodging for Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. "They discussed having some place that we can go to and rally around and have a good time.

"The intent is to provide an alternative dining option and entertainment venue at Fort Stewart," Smith said. "It is not only a place where you can get exceptional food quality; you are going to be able to get exceptional programming quality."

Smith said experts were brought in during every phase of the planning.

"For everything in there, we've gone to the experts - the food, the design of the bar, the sound system, the delivery system inside, everything," he said.

Smith describes Thunder Run as "upscale, first class. You can't do anything but feel good when you go in there. It's a morale booster. Talk about sense of community and pride. Thunder Run was designed for that purpose, and it's right on the mark."

About the dAfAcor, layout
The dAfAcor of Thunder Run features earth tones, which are widely accepted and popular today, according to Jerry Shelton, chief of business operations for IMCOM Southeast Region, who led a four-person team who for two weeks lent their expertise in food service to Club Stewart staff as they prepared to launch Thunder Run.

"I think the dAfAcor is very tasteful," he said. "I think it is a very nice, clean, comfortable environment to use for our dining here at Fort Stewart."

Just as the dAfAcor is warm and inviting, the layout of Thunder Run invites customers to make use of it for a variety of activities without concern about disturbing other customers.

"Here's a facility where you can go and watch a variety of athletic events on the 16 TVs in there," said Smith. "Thunder Run has a unique design. There's an area for dancing; there is an area where you can write a letter to your significant other or your mom and dad, letting them know what's going on. You can sit and listen to music, or complete an order on Wi-Fi. The layout of Thunder Run appeals to a broad segment of the community with different likes and needs and interests. It's set up to optimize multiple uses of the facility at the same time."

Shelton said the combination of the bar area and dining room is pretty typical of all the casual dining restaurants, the chains like Ruby Tuesdays, Houlihan's, Applebee's, but with a more modern dAfAcor.

"We get lots of 'oohs' and 'ahhs' when people come through the door," Shelton said. "I think they come here with an expectation, and this is not it. It exceeds what they think they are going to get. I guess a lot of people think the Army can't do something well."

About the food
Thunder Run offers a variety of sandwiches. Some examples include smoked ham, smoked turkey, Texas style brisket, two types of Philly Cheese Steaks (chicken and Cajun) and three types of paninis (smoked turkey Reuben, apple smoked chicken and Ham & Mac).

Are you hungry for a club sandwich, a hamburger or a cheeseburger' You've got it.

The house specialty is a half/rack of St. Louis Style Ribs, served with two sides and a beverage for $9.95. Sides offered include French fries, black and tan onion, Creole potato salad, BBQ baked beans, coleslaw and macaroni and cheese.

Watching your waistline' Enjoy one of four plated salad offerings.

For a look at the buffet and a la carte menus, go to On the left hand side of the page, click on Clubs and Dining then click on Club Stewart. There, you'll see the menus for Thunder Run.

Shelton said a great deal of care went into planning the Thunder Run menu.

"We put together the food concept based on successful operations at other installations in the Army. That's how we came up with how we are doing this," he said, adding that the Club Stewart staff also has been trained in providing excellent customer service at Thunder Run.

Hours for Thunder Run
Here are the scheduled hours of operation for Thunder Run, the combination dining area and bar located in Club Stewart, according to Reggie Bunting, assistant business manager at the club.

Aca,!Ac Monday through Friday, buffet area open for lunch from 11 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.

Aca,!Ac Monday through Thursday, open from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., for customers who want to have a cocktail, order food off the a la carte menu, or watch a game or two with friends or other patrons.

Aca,!Ac Fridays, open at 5 p.m. and remain open until 3 a.m. for Karaoke, Marne Call. Deejay on duty beginning at 9 p.m. Dancing. Top 40 music. Request hour.

Aca,!Ac Saturdays, open noon until about 3 a.m. Deejay, dancing. On Saturdays, first portion is college football, where patrons can come in and order food and watch the games and socialize. About 9 p.m. Saturdays, Thunder Run moves to club format, with the dinner and dancing. Food available for purchase up to 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Aca,!Ac Sundays, open at noon for NFL Football. Starting at 6 p.m., Thunder Run moves to night club portion, featuring Jazz and Old School music only. Live Jazz band every first and third Sunday. Food available for purchase throughout the night.

Other Grand Opening events