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YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Six days after its official ribbon-cutting, the Chili’s at Yokosuka temporarily closed due to customer-service issues.

The restaurant and bar closed Sunday and will reopen Jan. 3.

Chili’s management company Hasmore Ltd. — a commercial restaurant group under contract with Morale, Welfare and Recreation — will use the two weeks to train and hire more staff rather than keep customers waiting for food and service, said Stanley Ko, a representative for the president of the company.

The restaurant was hit with crowds of about 1,000 people per day since its Dec. 10 opening, straining the new workforce and causing issues with hiring and keeping staff, Ko said Monday.

Management is now looking to hire “as many people as we can,” Ko said.

“We thought we’d regroup and work out the kinks, so we don’t disappoint anyone,” Ko said. “We don’t want that to happen again.”

Closing up and hiring more people is a good idea, opined Petty Officer 3rd Class Tiffany Northcutt from the USS Fitzgerald.

Northcutt tried to eat at the restaurant last week, but walked out after learning it would be a 50-minute wait before they could sit down, she said.

“They need to hire more people,” Northcutt said. “That’s too long to wait.”

Her Fitzgerald colleague, Petty Officer 3rd Class Jean French, dined at Chili’s last week, but the restaurant was out of a number of items, she said.

“Somebody couldn’t order a margarita because they were out of tequila,” French said.

Certain mishaps are to be expected in the restaurant business, said civilian Brandon Smith, who empathized with the restaurant’s situation because he works as a club operations assistant for the Chief Petty Officer Club.

“I know what they’re going through,” Smith said. “They’re just opening, no one has experience yet, and delays are to be expected. It’s a good idea to close, though, and get it right.”

USS Kitty Hawk Petty Officer 1st Class Ray Sanders had a good experience during his Chili’s visit, but the closure means he probably won’t get to have another. After two years of anticipating the Chili’s Grill & Bar opening, he is on his way back to the States, he said.

“I guess I’ll just have to eat Chili’s at home,” he said.


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