Rear Admiral William D. French recently presented the Meritorious Civilian Service Award to Steve Hammel, Dining Services program manager, U.S. Navy, Southwest Region. The award recognizes meritorious service in performance of duty.

“Mr. Hammel’s dynamic leadership and foresight in the area of Dining Services has improved readiness and quality of life for sailors and their families, and has had a positive impact throughout the entire Navy Food and Beverage Program,” states the award citation.

Hammel heads an impressive operation that has an annual sales volume of $40 million and serves approximately 2.5 million retail customers a year. The first and only civilian hired for his position from the commercial sector, Hammel is responsible for 50 retail units including 13 military Galley operations that serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner to more than 30,000 military personnel every day.

Hammel’s implemented vision of transforming Galleys from stark institutional cafeterias to attractive dining options was part of the meritorious service recognized. Of his 13 Galleys, nine are now accredited as 5-star, two as 4-star, and one was awarded the 2011 Edward F. Ney Memorial Award for food service excellence as the “Best Galley Ashore in CONUS (Contiguous United States).”

Top among his accomplishments this past year was the opening in San Diego of two full-service, on-base MWR-operated Starbucks–the first and second in the Navy. He was also instrumental in the development and opening of facilities at several other bases including a Restaurant & Micro Brew and new operations under the Pierside Café/Flightline Café “franchise” that was created by Hammel to standardize product and service quality while maximizing purchasing leverage and profitability.

Under his innovative leadership, overall sales have increased 2 percent each year since Hammel assumed his position as program manager seven years ago. These gains were in part due to Hammel’s aggressive and decidedly commercial approach to operations, marketing, and merchandising.

During his tenure, utilization of Hammel’s operations has increased significantly and the cost of goods was reduced by 5 percent during the same time period.

Hammel’s retail operations offer a wide variety of food and beverage options, from snack bars to delis to name brand food concepts. These operations are offered on bases throughout California and in Fallon, Nevada.

Hammel and his staff also run a successful catering program with full-service facilities that can accommodate weddings, receptions, conferences, or parties. His operations rival any off-base hotel or catering establishment and offer one-stop shopping for any event.

Hammel recently revamped the regional catering program which now features simplified costing, tiered menu prices, reduced service charges, and no room rental fees. As a result, other Navy Regions are considering this approach.

Although he is consistently busy with his 50 operations, it is important to Hammel to be involved in industry organizations as well. He served on the board of the Society for Foodservice Management (SFM) and chaired their Education Committee. Additionally, Hammel won the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) 2008 Silver Plate Award and has twice been the recipient of the SFM President’s Award. 

Hammel is a member of the National Association of College & University Food Services (NACUFS) since 2004 and a member of the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) since 1998. Hammel also was on the board of the National Council of Chain Restaurants (NCCR) and served on their Food Safety Task Force from 2000-2004.

Hammel is also on the advisory board of Dine America, the annual conference for foodservice leaders.

In the words of Rear Admiral W.D. French, Commander Navy Region Southwest, “Mr. Hammel’s exceptional contributions and unfailing commitment to excellence reflect great credit upon himself, Navy Region Southwest, and uphold the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service and the United States Civil Service.”

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