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SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Don’t expect to eat at a new Chili’s Grill & Bar in 2008 if you live on Sasebo Naval Base.

The base’s projected opening date for the restaurant has been pushed back nearly a year, Scott Poluhowich, director of Morale, Welfare and Recreation, said on Tuesday.

MWR will spend the next few months searching for a project construction contractor, and then most of next year building and staffing the restaurant.

But do not fear, a new Chili’s should be open in the Galaxies building by fall 2009, Poluhowich said.

"Now, we are actually doing the bidding process," he said. "Things will start moving pretty quickly from here."

In December, Congress approved $1.75 million to remodel an old on-base parking garage into the popular American Tex-Mex restaurant.

Base officials have been preparing to take bids on the project and are now ready to make a public request for proposals, a process that will take about three months to yield a construction contract, Poluhowich said.

Once the contract is signed, construction will continue for about four months and then restaurant equipment must be bought and installed. A contractor will spend another couple of months training staff, according to Poluhowich.

A Chili’s would be a substantial addition to the food options on the main base, which now include a food court, a McDonald’s, Galaxies and the Harbor View Club.

The restaurants have proved popular at U.S. military installations in the Pacific.

A Chili’s branch opened last year at Yokosuka Naval Base and was mobbed by so many customers it was forced to close and rethink its staffing plan.

The restaurant attracted about 1,000 people per day during the first week of operation.

An Okinawa location is one of the highest-grossing restaurants in the franchise of about 1,000 restaurants worldwide, according to Sasebo MWR.


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