YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The Air Force Services Agency commander had good news for Yokota residents during a brief stop here Wednesday.

Col. Joseph Mazzola said Chili’s restaurant is coming to Yokota “about two years from now.”

The American food franchise held its grand opening at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, on Monday. Mazzola said a representative from the Chili’s parent company, Brinker International, “believes they may have set a record for the biggest opening day for Chili’s worldwide,” ringing up about $21,900 in sales.

The Kadena restaurant is the first of several on Defense Department installations; Chili’s also will open on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and Osan Air Base, South Korea, Mazzola said, noting the Osan restaurant should open in about two years.

The Yokota Chili’s, a $3.39 million project, is to be completed by December 2005, said 374th Services Division officials. The restaurant will be built where the bowling alley is now. That building, 526, will be demolished and the bowling alley moved by November 2005 to the former base exchange, Building 1, on the west side of base.

Mazzola also spoke of other Services’ projects slated for Yokota, including:

• a new irrigation system for the Par 3 golf course;• a Classics Diner restaurant;• improvements to the Skills Development Center wood shop;• fitness center renovations.

“There’s a lot going on here in the Yokota community” to improve the quality of life, he said.

In April 2004, soon after the new Air Force physical fitness standards take effect, Yokota’s main fitness center will undergo an 18-month, $9 million renovation, said Staff Sgt. Andrew Yates, noncommissioned officer in charge of fitness center special events. The project includes adding another basketball court and expanding the locker rooms, he said.

Even though more airmen across Pacific bases likely will head to the gym to get ready for the new physical fitness test — which includes a 1.5-mile run — Mazzola doesn’t foresee having to “disenfranchise our regular customers” to reduce overcrowding. Squadron commanders and others will have to use some creative planning when scheduling their troops to work out at the gym, he said.

Mazzola kicked off his first Pacific Air Forces base tour as Air Force Services Agency commander with a stop at Kadena earlier this week. Next, he heads to Osan and Kunsan air bases in South Korea.

author picture
Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now