by Monica Mendoza
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — In a makeover made for television, the 40-year-old Aragon dining facility officially reopened Aug. 6 with fanfare and a new, modern look.
Decorators said goodbye to mauve colors and oak finish and brought in golden patterned fabrics with cherry wood finish, etched glass, modern light fixtures and scenic photos. One side of the dining hall features a fine dining area with glass doors, which makes use of the natural light from the wall of windows on the south side of the facility.
Cheryl Scharff, 21st Civil Engineer Squadron interior designer, explained early on in the renovation project that the design details, including the laser-etched 21st Space Wing shields on each of the wood-back chairs and accent pendent lights over the booths, gives the dining facility an overall classic look.
The other side of the dining hall resembles a top-notch Colorado sports bar, with large screen televisions, high bistro-style tables and chairs, cozy booths and vibrant colored carpet. Booths along the wall are divided by stone finish partitions that give the dining facility a Colorado cabin feel.
“Since this facility opened in 1967 at a cost of approximately $280,000 it had undergone no major renovations until now,” said Col. Stephen N. Whiting, 21st Space Wing commander. “In over 40 years of operation, the Aragon dining facility, understandably, needed some overhauling.”
The facility, which had been closed for renovation since April, opened to Airmen Aug. 2. The $1.8 million project included installing a new heating, ventilating and air conditioning unit, a handicap accessible doorway and a complete overhaul of the restrooms.
Renovating the dining facility was part of a series of projects on Peterson Air Force base aimed at improving Airmen’s quality of life. One of the major goals with the project was to streamline the serving lines, making them less congested and allowing Airmen to get through the lines more quickly. The ideas for improvement came from Airmen, who voiced their concerns during a series of town hall meetings.
The dining hall had, over the years, been redecorated. But, this was the first major renovation project since it opened.
“It looks beautiful,” said Denise Wells-McMillon, general manager of Western Services in Colorado Springs. Her company was hired for the upholstery and refinish work in the dining hall. “These were existing booths, this was oak and we stripped it and refinished it to cherry.”
More than 10,000 meals are served in the Aragon dining hall each month, most of those to Airmen and Soldiers who live in the Peterson dormitories to include servicemembers from Peterson AFB, Schriever AFB and Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, who use a meal card. During the four months of renovation, about 300 Airmen received Basic Allowance for Subsistence each month in their paychecks to cover their meals. That temporary payment ended in the last paycheck in July.
The Aragon dining facility was named in honor of Staff Sgt. Jose Ruben Aragon of Fountain, Colo., who died in 1965 while serving in Vietnam. He was one of the first Colorado servicemembers to die in Vietnam and he was awarded the Bronze Star posthumously for his heroic efforts to save lives on the flightline when a B-57B exploded on the ground.
“Today, we honor Staff Sgt. Jose Ruben Aragon for the commitment he showed in Southeast Asia as an example to our Airmen,” Colonel Whiting said during the Aragon grand reopening ceremony. “We also honor all the Airmen, Soldiers and other servicemembers who serve here at Peterson, Schriever and along the entire frontrange.”
The Aragon Dining Facility operates seven days a week on an a-la-carte system. Call 556-4782 for the menu recording. Hours are 5:30 to 8 a.m. Monday to Friday for breakfast, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for lunch and 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. for dinner. Weekend hours are 6 to 8 a.m. for breakfast, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for lunch and 4:30 to 7 p.m. for dinner.
Holiday’s are 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. for brunch, and 4:30 to 6 p.m. for dinner.