Dining facility opens for single airmen at Aviano; food allowance will end
November 17, 2004
AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy — Lines often get longer during the holidays, but at Aviano some of them are likely going to get shorter.
La Dolce Vita, the base’s new dining facility for those living on base, served its first meal Monday, offering items for lunch such as Salisbury steak and baked chicken. Tuesday marked the first breakfast served.
While much of the base’s active-duty and civilian work force won’t be eating regularly at the facility — it’s largely limited to single enlisted airmen — they’ll likely see a difference elsewhere on base in December.
That’s because airmen living in the dorms have been receiving hundreds of dollars monthly as a food allowance.
With the debut of the La Dolce Vita (“the sweet life” in English) and the re-opening of the Buon Appetito dining facility across town, that allotment will vanish. And lines at places such as the Mensa and the food court — and even the commissary and shoppettes — may become shorter.
“It’s not that big a deal,” said Airman 1st Class Bryan Nelson, trying out breakfast for the first time at the facility Tuesday with Airman Chris Evans. “We still have enough money.”
But Nelson, who figures to lose about $500 a month, said his eating habits would certainly change. He’ll be dining for free at the new facility.
“We’ll be eating here pretty much all the time,” he said.
Master Sgt. Vatema Ivy, the dining facility manager, said there would be plenty of food to eat. The facility will serve four meals a day: breakfast, from 5:30 to 7:30 a.m.; lunch, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; dinner, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.; and late-night, 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Menus, which follow the basic Air Force 14-day rotation plan, will be posted on the Internet. But Ivy said the facility, which employs 14 local nationals and 17 airmen, would try to offer alternatives such as a potato bar on Tuesdays, ethnic food on Wednesdays and pasta bar on Thursdays.
She says she knows that at least some of her customers will be grumbling initially.
“Nobody likes losing all that money, so it’s going to make us work a little harder to give them a nutritionally balanced meal that they’ll like,” she said.
The $4.1 million facility will also offer meals to members of the Italian air force on base. A flight kitchen, staffed by the same people, can put together meals, with a few hours’ notice, for air crews, security forces and those with special needs.
Ivy calls the facility, with high ceilings and new furniture “aesthetically beautiful.” She estimates that crews will be able to serve 550 customers a meal, with a seating capacity of 137.
Business so far has been pretty slow.
“The whole base doesn’t know about it yet,” said Tech. Sgt. Rick Horn, one of those serving customers Tuesday morning. “Once they find out, business will pick up.”