Construction is underway at Yokota Air Base on a new Chili's Grill and Bar restaurant. The $5.6 million project is expected to open this coming summer.

Construction is underway at Yokota Air Base on a new Chili's Grill and Bar restaurant. The $5.6 million project is expected to open this coming summer. (Bryce S. Dubee / S&S)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — By the end of summer, Yokota residents will have a lot more choices when it comes to getting a bite to eat or a cup of coffee.

Five projects are under way, ranging from small kiosk-style coffee shops to a multimillion-dollar Chili’s Grill and Bar, said Chuck Stachowiak, chief of the community services flight at Yokota.

The first projects to be completed are two Rickenbacker’s coffee shops that will be at the Kanto Lodge and the Enlisted Club. A signature brand of the Air Force Services Agency, Rickenbacker’s will offer barista-type service and a full line of popular coffee and tea products as well as some food items, Stachowiak said.

Both shops are expected to open in March, he said.

Two facilities already established at Yokota — the Outback and the café area in the Yujo Community Center — are being renovated.

With renovation scheduled for completion this summer, the Outback will be rebranded as Route 16, a 1950s-style diner serving burgers and milkshakes, Stachowiak said.

While work is being done on the Outback/Route 16, Charlie T’s — in the Yokota Enlisted Club — will take over the restaurant’s late-night schedule on the weekends. It will be open from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.

Meanwhile, the café in the Yujo will receive a “major face-lift from the ground up,” Stachowiak said, adding that new menu items will be added, including curry dishes. While some details, including a name, have not yet been finalized, he said the café will re-open this summer.

The goal of the renovations is to give each establishment a unique identity and to enhance the dining options of the community, Stachowiak said. He said that diversification process began with the opening of the East Side Blues barbecue restaurant and continued with the rebranding of the West Side Deli into West Side Productions.

Perhaps the biggest name coming to Yokota this year is Chili’s, which will be next to the Airman and Family Readiness Center.

Stachowiak said the $5.6 million facility is expected to open in late summer.

“For us, it is an advantage seeing the lessons learned from other Air Force bases that have implemented a Chili’s,” he said of the 75 new jobs that will be created once the restaurant opens.

“These projects are all a continuation of asking the question ‘How do we diversify ourselves and give more back to the community?’ ” Stachowiak said. “We are able to appeal to all different tastes instead of just having the same menu at five different places.”

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