The Black Stallion has run long and fast for more than 40 years, but the race is coming to an end. The Black Stallion Inn Dining Facility on Patch Barracks is scheduled to close permanently on July 31. After June 30, only active duty service members will be served.
The decision to close the facility wasn’t an easy one, according to Col. Carl Bird, the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart commander. The closure is part of an Installation Management Command initiative to cut more than $300 million from the annual logistics budget.
To help meet this goal, IMCOM was charged with closing a predetermined number of dining facilities across its 79 garrisons. USAG Stuttgart and the Black Stallion Inn were targeted due to the low number of meal cardholders in the community.
“It’s not a matter of how many we’re serving, but who we’re serving,” Bird said. “The primary mission of a dining facility is to feed meal cardholders, and less than one percent of the people who eat at the Black Stallion are.”
The garrison is working closely with Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation; the Defense Commissary Agency; and the Army and Air Force Exchange Service to introduce new and expanded dining options for the more than 500 daily customers of the dining facility.
“I usually eat here three times a week,” said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Cordova, the senior noncommissioned officer at the Patch Dental Clinic. “After it closes, I’ll start packing leftovers until I see what opens up.”
One new option is the addition of a mobile barbecue grill that opened June 4 at the Patch Community Club. The grill will serve burgers and hot dogs on a daily basis, and occasionally, will offer other items, such as ribs and chicken.
In the future months, community members will also see a contractor serving meals in the vacated dining facility, an enlarged and improved deli in the Patch Commissary, a Family and MWR-managed upscale box lunch program, and a new coffee shop on Finance Row, which will also offer takeaway food items.
The DFAC’s closure will impact lines at other dining venues during the coming school year, as Patch High School students are allowed to eat lunch off campus.
But AAFES is getting ahead of this by increasing manpower and the number of seats available for customers in the Patch food court. In the future, it is thought the lines will decrease with the completion of a new school complex on Panzer Kaserne in 2015.
The dining facility is planning two special farewell meals before it closes its doors for good … one open to everyone on June 29, and one for active duty military only, on July 27.
“I’ve been eating here for 10 years,” said Dorothy Rance, a retiree who regularly dines at the Black Stallion Inn. “It’s a pity to see it go.”