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HEIDELBERG, Germany — GIs and their families jonesing for a taste of Americana beyond the usual fare of on-base burger joints will soon have a bona fide fern-bar restaurant to flock to in Germany.

TGI Friday’s — among the original casual dining spots to market its self-styled flair nationwide — will open a restaurant inside Patrick Henry Village in Heidelberg this summer.

“It’s quite a coup for us,” said Heidelberg-area Base Support Battalion commander Lt. Col. Earl Teeter. “We’re very excited.”

In a $1.2 million makeover, Friday’s familiar brass rails, candy cane-striped tablecloths and antique wall art will replace the now-defunct Lexington’s.

“That’s great,” said Diris Smith, when hearing the news. “TGI’s is my favorite restaurant back in the States.”

Meanwhile, in nearby Mannheim, officials are preparing to open a Winger’s Diner at Benjamin Franklin Village.

The home of the self-proclaimed “World Famous Wings and Freakin’ Amazing Sauce,” Wingers is another casual dining chain restaurant enjoying growing popularity in the States.

Adjacent to the Top Hat Club, the grand opening for Wingers is slated for May 19.

The two restaurants are among a slew of new eateries, fun spots and convenience stores on the way in the Heidelberg/Mann- heim area.

Among them:

Mini Golf — A $150,000, 18-hole mini golf course, complete with a waterfall and ice cream vendor, is set to open May 3 next to PHV’s bowling center.

Subway — The sandwich vendor will open a counter at the food court at Campbell Barracks in Heidelberg this summer.

Shoppette — Campbell Barracks is also replacing its 400-square-foot mini-shoppette with a full version this summer, complete with video rental and liquor sales. Officials hope to have the $500,000 expansion completed by the beginning of fall.

Taco Bell — Already doling out burritos and nachos, a Taco Bell at the Heidelberg Shopping Center opened last week.

Meanwhile, said Teeter, work continues for a new post exchange in Heidelberg.

“We’re now waiting on the German government to approve the land request,” he said. Officials hope to eventually shut down the Heidelberg Shopping Center, replacing it with a Super Wal-Mart-style mega PX in an expanded section of PHV adjacent to the commissary.

Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin next summer, said Teeter.


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