The U.S. Navy Region Southwest has piloted an internal brand concept called Take 5ive Coffee Bistro that lets Defense Department civilians, active duty military and their families on base “Sip, Savor and Relax.”
The concept combines a full We Proudly Serve Starbucks range of beverage options (the “sip” in the motto); fresh breakfast, lunch and snack menus (“savor”); and a modern industrial yet comfortable combination of lounge and booth seating (“relax”).
There’s also artwork on the walls that delivers a touch of nostalgia by incorporating historical military influences specific to each base where the concept is implemented. The space also offers free Wi-Fi and charging ports for customer convenience.
The pilot location, converted from a limited snack bar, has doubled the unit’s annual revenue in its first year of operation and the Navy Region Southwest has slated four more sites to open in 2016.
The Take 5ive program is a plug-and-play concept that takes base demographics into account. Some facilities have full production kitchens while others use only heat-and-serve options. The concept focuses on using equipment that delivers quick service as well as consistent quality products, such as Merrychef brand ovens that allow a variety of cooking and heating product versatility.
The concept allows space and flexibility to include “fun foods,” such as an oatmeal-dispensing machine that has proven very popular on a particular base known for its cold morning weather. Other food selections include handmade breakfast burritos, savory pastries, Angus burgers, and a daily variety of healthy wraps, sandwiches and salads.
Limited-time offers such as sourdough bread bowls featuring a variety of ingredients such as soups, chili, chowder and stews help add variety to the menu.
The Take 5ive bistro projects are funded by the Navy’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) Dining Service Program with funding for capital improvements coming from non-tax dollar operational profits earned by the MWR program. The concept was developed in house and all elements of design, construction, marketing, commissioning, staffing and management are conducted by MWR employees.
The units are generally placed in existing spaces that require minimal construction modifications to their internal structures to avoid significant financial investment, and design elements take advantage of repurposed materials such as reclaimed wood, restored fixtures and comfortable lounging furniture.
Feedback from Take 5ive customers continues to be extremely positive, according to Steve Hammel, dining services program manager for the U.S. Navy, Southwest Region.
“We often receive incredulous comments such as, ‘Are we on a military base?’ and ‘There’s nothing like it here in town,’” Hammel says, noting that foodservice employees are selected to staff Take 5ive units based on their customer service experience and their ability to be genuine and connect with each customer.
The concept recently added a DineOnTheGo.com online service option to the Take 5ive operation, which allows customers to place and prepay orders for delivery or pickup. It is available for mobile devices as both an Android and iPhone app.
”For those who have not experienced life on a military base, it’s important that we provide our military members and their families high-quality products and services along with a modern, family friendly atmosphere,” Hammel explains. “The Take 5ive brand truly offers our well-deserving active duty service member a high-quality experience. Who better to offer these services to than those who defend our country?”