AirForceLife < Dining < Spotlight
Pico 'n Salsa Spices JBER Dining Options
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Pico 'n Salsa is the new Mexican-themed restaurant introduced to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Jan. 11, as part of the Food Transformation Initiative.
"Pico 'n Salsa is basically an additional food option requested by the customers on base from a survey about what they would like to see," said Senior Master Sgt. Kaema Desouza, 673d Force Support Squadron food service superintendent. "It's open to everyone, and only active-duty Air Force essential station messing (meal card) customers are allowed to utilize this facility as part of the campus-dining experience."
The restaurant, on the corner of Sijan Avenue and Arctic Warrior Drive, follows the create-your-own entrée concept by providing the ingredients like meat, rice, vegetables, tortillas, chips, sauces and more.
"It was really good, everything was very fresh; like the salsa," said Airman 1st Class Bret Chamblee, 90th Aircraft Maintenance Unit F-22 Raptor crew chief. "All around it's a really good place; [I] was really amazed."
The FTI is an Air Force program to offer more dining options than just the dining facility.
"The FTI is the new concept the Air Force is [establishing] for dining facilities," Desouza said. "This came about in 2010; JBER was one of the first test bases, and one of six, to kick off the concept.
"Basically it wanted to improve the dining experience for all ESM card members and patrons on base," Desouza said. "It offers the Airmen living in the dorm the opportunity to eat anywhere they want that's operated within the [installation]."
The restaurant was conceived after a survey last year showed the JBER populace wanted a Mexican-themed restaurant.
"What makes Pico 'n Salsa unique is that the people chose this option, so this is what they want," said Capt. Rebecca Nolasco, 673d Force Support Squadron food operations chief. "This is the first base at which the Aramark Corporation is introducing the Pico 'n Salsa brand, so we are the test base for this concept and if it really kicks off, this concept will be introduced to other installations."
Aramark is contracted to manage many food establishments on JBER such as the Iditarod Dining Facility, Topio's and Ten Pins, Paradise Café, Flight Kitchen and now Pico 'n Salsa.
Contracted Aramark food workers are cross-trained to work at any of the restaurants on base.
"Everybody who [cooks] will process through [Pico 'n Salsa] so everybody has the opportunity to do something different and learn a new skill," said Martin Alletson, JBER Aramark general manager. "We try to do as much cross-training not only for their education, but also to give us more flexibility in scheduling."
The new restaurant is going through a six-month trial period, open to constructive criticism. It is open Monday through Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., for the time being.
"We are getting [an Interactive Customer Evaluation page] set up for Pico 'n Salsa so customers can give their additional feedback on their dining experience," Nolasco said. "We can use that to expand the menu, help us figure out what are the preferred hours, or fine-tune some of the menu items as we go along with this trial period.
"We're excited this restaurant finally became a reality and are looking forward to customers enjoying their experience here," Nolasco said.
by Airman 1st Class Christopher R. Morales - JBER Public Affairs
Photo - Airman 1st Class Bret Chamblee, 90th Aircraft Maintenance Unit F-22 Raptor crew chief, chooses the ingredients for his order at Pico ‘n Salsa at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Jan. 11, 2016. All entrées have the choice of meat, rice, various vegetables and sauces for the customers to customize their meal. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christopher R. Morales)