“Three-peat”: Raider Café triumphs

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Denise M. Jenson
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

 The Raider Café, the source which fuels Ellsworth’s bomber Airmen, was recently named as the Air Force Global Strike Command finalist for the John. L. Hennessy award for the third year in a row.


The annual award, given to the best of the best dining facility for the last 60 years, covers the entire scope of an installation's food service program that exhibits excellence in categories such as management effectiveness, force readiness support, food quality and safety awareness.

The Raider Café team competed against seven dining facilities across Air Force Global Strike Command in 2016, as well as competing in Air Combat Command in 2015, both times emerging as the command’s finalist.

“There are two regions [we are in region two] evaluated across the Air Force for the award,” said Master Sgt. Brian Wingo, the food services superintendent assigned to the 28th Force Support Squadron. “Out of eight facilities in our region, Ellsworth was chosen as the AFGSC finalist. A three person evaluation team consisting of 2 civilian restaurant industry professionals and an Air Force Services Activity Food and Beverage Manager will evaluate each installation in the region they’re assigned to.”

The Raider Café prepares for this annual event all year around, making sure everything in the facility is running smoothly and efficiently.

“When we compete, everything is being looked at,” said Staff Sgt. Mykala Kelley, the Raider Cafe manager assigned to the 28th FSS. “From our submission package, we put everything we’ve done throughout the year, including distinguished visitors, joint operations with the South Dakota National Guard and everything in between.”

Kelley explained that each competing base’s submission packages are thoroughly examined, and once a decision is made, a finalist from each major command is chosen.

“Once all of the finalists are chosen, the evaluators then come to each different base and score us individually,” Kelley said. “They score us on everything we do on a day-to-day basis, including management, recipe cards, cleaning, our team’s interactions with customers, and food preparation.”

For some Airmen at the Raider Café it was their first time being a part of such a huge success, but for others, this experience is a well-known feeling.

“I’ve been at the DFAC for three years, so that’s every year we’ve been nominated for the Hennessy award,” said Airman 1st Class Shatyk Young, a food service journeyman assigned to the 28th FSS. “It’s a great and humbling feeling to be rewarded for all the hard work each person puts in every day. We work all year around, even during holidays and days off, preparing meals and fueling the fight.”

Kelley emphasized the award recognizes exceptional performance in the unit, so the success can’t simply be credited to just one person.

“The teamwork here is the most important aspect to our success,” she said. “Without teamwork, they wouldn’t be able to push through and do what needs to be done here on a daily basis. I’m honored knowing that I work with such an awesome team, and I’m proud of everything they do.”