FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- Fort Leonard Wood hosted a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Garrison Command Double Dining Facility, Nov. 15, in Building 6111, here. The event included a tour of the new facility and refreshments prepared by dining facility staff members.

According to Bill Moffitt, Installation Food Program manager, Directorate of Logistics, the 35th and the 31st Engineer battalions will be the primary users of the new dining facility.

"This dedication is exciting, and if you don't know how exciting it is, you probably need to go take a look at one of the old DFACs. It's just an amazing facility and a great team effort. I hope the engineers who use the facility are as happy as we are because this allows us to focus on other things," Col. Charles Williams, the installation garrison commander said.

Col. Allen Webster, commander, 1st Engineer Brigade, U.S. Army Engineer School, also provided remarks during the ceremony.

"Eating, like sleeping, is a sign of weakness, but everybody has to do it," Webster said.

Webster talked about the team effort invested into building the new facility, and then shifted focus on the people who would be responsible for the facility's daily operation.

"At 03 or 0400 hours, through all the bad weather, we fire up the DFACs because we've got Soldiers to feed," Webster said. "They'll be at the door when the Soldiers walk in, they'll be behind the lines, they'll be behind the hot stoves, and everywhere in-between, making sure drinks are filled, and the coffee's hot. That is a lot of effort. They do it day in and day out, three times a day. From this 1st Engineer Brigade commander's perspective I always appreciate what they do, and I appreciate the chance to utilize this tremendous facility."

"The 46,000-square-foot facility is four times the size of our older dining facilities that are 13,000-square-feet. The new facility has the capacity to serve over 3,000 people per meal depending on hours of operation. All the equipment is state-of-the-art including the fire suppression system and security infrastructure," Moffitt said.

Several key organizations and individuals were recognized during the grand opening ceremony to include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

According to Jesse Vance, resident engineer, for the Kansas City District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, "There were a few contractual issues to work through, but we had a great project team, and overall this is a top-quality facility. When it gets to full utilization, it will serve the post well."

Moffit added that he will use lessons learned at this facility to coordinate best practices for similar facilities in the future.

Eric Arndt, the area engineer for the Kansas City District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said the double dining facility concept is utilized to accommodate the new basic combat training complexes on post.

"Fort Leonard Wood gains efficiency by having one facility rather than two smaller dining facilities minimizing staff, manpower requirements, and recognizing energy savings. The two story design allows meals to be served on two floors from one major kitchen area on the first floor. An elevator is used to transfer food between floors. Another clear benefit is that two stories reduces the land footprint required," Arndt said.

The contract for the project was awarded on Sept. 4, 2008, and actual completion of the facility was Feb. 24, 2011.