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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The lower-level food court inside the Yokota Community Center is about to get a fresh addition.

Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits, currently in Building 1299 on the base’s west side, is moving into the spot formerly occupied by GNC, which was relocated to the second floor last fall. It’ll sit alongside Taco Bell, Anthony’s Pizza and Charley’s Grilled Subs in the Army and Air Force Exchange Service lineup.

A grand-opening date hasn’t been announced, but officials hope to begin operating in the new location by Feb. 18, said Flishia Bailey, the AAFES general manager for Yokota.

“That’s our goal,” she said. “We’ve had to push it back a little because the contractor has some things to finish up. We want to make sure it’s safe for the community and everything is done properly.

“We may do a ‘soft opening’ and then offer up some grand-opening specials later, something to welcome the relocated facility to the YCC and let the community know about it.”

New equipment and registers are in place, she said, and a Popeyes sign has been unveiled at the food court. However, electrical and steam-line work must be completed, and the restaurant also faces some final routine inspections.

When that’s done, changeover will be instantaneous, with no interruption in operating hours, except for delivery service. Because AAFES officials originally had anticipated a Feb. 8 startup, they disconnected phones in Building 1299 and plugged them into the new store, Bailey said. So delivery orders will not be able to be called in until the new location is operating.

AAFES is spending more than $500,000 on the relocation effort, according to Bailey.

The restaurant chain has been on Yokota’s west side for more than a decade. Once it’s cleared out, the old stand-alone structure will be demolished.

“It’s basically outlived its life in that building,” she said. “There’s not much you can do to repair it and make it a better facility. We just need to get out of there.”

With the new store in a heavily frequented part of base, officials hope the change in scenery boosts sales.

“There won’t be a drive-through anymore, but it’ll be more convenient for the customer,” Bailey said. “It was a little out of the way on the west side.

“This is more centrally located. People shopping in the BX or commissary who want to grab dinner too can have it all there under one roof.”


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