Sailors at Capodichino complain about rising cost of dining
November 29, 2008
NAPLES, Italy — A recent price increase at one of the few food venues on Capodichino has customers paying more for less.
Costs for most of the menu items at the American Eatery at the Capo Landing rose significantly in the past two weeks, in some cases more than 50 percent.
Gone are the combo meals that included a burger, fries and a drink. Instead, all items are now priced individually and cost more.
At the high end of the menu, a bacon double cheeseburger which was $5.90 now costs $9.35. If you want fries and a drink, the total cost is $13.85. Before the price increase, that meal would have cost $8.40.
With few choices for eating on base since the closure of the dining facility last year and no practical off-base options, sailors say their food allowance, or commuted rations, don’t keep pace with the prices charged by base vendors.
“The junior troops don’t make enough money for what they charge here,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class David Baumbusch, who lives in the barracks on base. “Since they closed the galley, most of us live on microwave food. The barracks have two small kitchens, but for 300 residents that’s not very realistic.”
Price isn’t the only thing customers are complaining about.
“It’s horrible,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Benjamin Cook, who has been stationed in Naples for three years. “We have limited, unhealthy options. And if you live here or work the night shift, the only thing you can get at night is pizza or a Subway sandwich.”
The price increase at the American Eatery was the first since it opened more than two years ago, said Tony Smith, base director for Morale, Welfare and Recreation.
“We try to get [contractors] to keep prices down, but if they’re not able to make ends meet, we’re setting them up for failure,” Smith said. “After the cost of ingredients, the mark-up includes a percentage for MWR, and their biggest expense which is labor. When they showed us their costs, we agreed with the increase.”
While prices won’t be going down, Smith said the base is working to include healthier menu choices and more variety in the evening for base residents.
“They can’t afford to keep all of the venues open after hours, but we’re looking at the possibility of rotating the different vendors, so maybe one night will be pizza, one night burgers and one night Italian food,” Smith said.
There are no plans to raise prices at the three other food vendors in the Capo Landing facility, Smith said.