Duke Field near Crestview, headquarters for the Air Force Reserve's 919th Special Operations Wing, recently opened its Community Center in space that had been occupied by The Outpost, which had become little more than a bar for Reserve personnel during their drill weekends.The renovated space includes a We Proudly Serve Starbucks, where some of the well-known coffee shop chain's beverages are available.
EGLIN AFB — A $75,000 renovation has transformed a longstanding Duke Field facility that had recently been little more than a bar for Air Force Reserve airmen into a community center designed to accommodate a range of uses.
Since 2007 the building, which had previously served as an enlisted airmen's club, had been known as The Outpost. In that incarnation, it had served primarily as a venue for official functions and a place for members of the 919th Special Operations Wing, the Air Force's only Reserve special operations wing, to socialize after duty hours during their drill weekends.
Now known as the Duke Field Community Center — a grand reopening was held Oct. 5 — the facility continues to offer adult beverages but it also now houses a We Proudly Serve Starbucks, where visitors can enjoy some of the well-known coffee shop chain's beverages. Additionally, the center's On The Fly restaurant now offers an expanded menu.
“The impact of these projects is going to be felt for years to come,” Master Sgt. William Steele, chief of the 919th SOW's Education and Training Office, said in an Air Force story on the renovated space. “Most reservists had nowhere to go during weekends while staying on base. They had to drive 30 minutes to get to the nearest restaurant or entertainment option.”
The project was not undertaken in a vacuum, but with considerable input from the Duke Field community.
"We conducted surveys and attended focus groups to try and better find out what our community needed and what they would use," said Jill Harms, director of services at Duke Field.
"The Community Center is one of the only community spaces on base," Harms said, "and our goal was to transform it from a single-use space to something that cannot only facilitate the continued concession operation but also to host out-of-the-office meetings, to bring your kids, to accomplish work and to meet friends."
Overall, Harms said, the Duke Field Community Center "hopes to offer parents a place to gather on drill weekends and connect with other families, a place for our members and their families to come for a meal and a drink, a place for leaders to meet with their teams and to help develop our community."
Transforming The Outpost into the Community Center included updating the furniture and changing the food-service space from a cafeteria setup to a space featuring café-style tables, high-backed booths, modular seating and sofas, Harms explained.
The project was financed with local non-appropriated funds, Harms said, the money coming not from congressional appropriations but from sales of goods and services to Department of Defense personnel. The project took nearly a year to complete, according to Harms.
"We have gotten a lot of really great feedback from our members on the look and feel of the Community Center as well as the addition of the coffee shop," Harms added. "We are excited to continue to grow our presence at Duke Field and to find new and innovative ways to meet the needs of our members."