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Flagler Beach’s Golden Lion Cafe Set To Take Over Palm Harbor Golf Restaurant

| July 24, 2017

The clubhouse and what used to be the restaurant at Palm Harbor Golf Club in Palm Coast. (c FlaglerLive)

The clubhouse and what used to be the restaurant at Palm Harbor Golf Club in Palm Coast. (c FlaglerLive)

Flagler Beach’s Golden Lion Cafe is expanding its reach into the heart of Palm Coast: it will be taking over restaurant, bar and concession operations at the troubled Palm Harbor Golf Club, the municipal course that, like its sister tennis center, has been losing money since it opened in 2009.


The financial terms of the lease have not been disclosed: they are not included in the documents posted with Tuesday’s City Council workshop agenda, when council members will presumably be seeing those terms for the first time. (Unlike other local government administrations, Palm Coast’s often withholds key figures or documents until the beginning of council meetings.)

This much is know: Golden Lion would sign a five-year lease to run the food and beverage operation in a facility that holds up to 78 people (though it seldom does). Golden Lion would serve the clubhouse restaurant and bar, provide beverage carts on the golf course, stock vending machines, and catering in or out of the clubhouse. (The facility will presumably have a liquor license.)

The lease to Golden Lion is city government’s latest attempt to stanch losses, this time by adopting a hybrid managerial approach. Rather than hand over the entire golf course to a management company, as was the case under KemperSports for eight years, the city will manager some of the golf course’s operations while contracting others. Concessions is one of those contracted services.

Just two firms submitted proposals when the city advertised the request for proposal: The Golden Lion and Bonner Mobile Bar Service of Tampa. Golden Lion easily won, and in mid-July created a new company, Green Lion Cafe, with Golden Lion’s Anthony Marlow and Timothy Conner as its managing partners, to run the Palm Harbor operation–assuming the Palm Coast City Council ratifies the agreement on Tuesday. There is little doubt that it will.

Green Lion will be required to improve the property, including restoring the deck, installing new flooring, painting, lighting and plants, and building a new bar. The dollar amount of those investments is not clear.

The last financial reports for the golf club and tennis center the city has posted publicly go back to January, by which time the golf club had already run up a loss of $100,000 (almost $20,000 more than expected) and the tennis center had run up a loss of $43,000, or $6,000 more than at this point the previous year. City Manager Jim Landon, with the council’s support, has for several years been portraying the golf club and the tennis center as tax-supported “amenities” no different than city parks, an incorrect analogy in many regards. Among those: city park operations are not subcontracted to vendors. And no city part charges money for the privilege of use.

But while both the golf club and the tennis club charge fees for use, neither operation would be viable without the additional city subsidy. With little or no evidence–at least none that this council and its administration have put forth when making the claims–council member and the manager have claimed that closing palm Harbor would hurt property values in its surrounding neighborhood.

For many years the draw at Palm Harbor Golf Club was its restaurant, when it was run by Flagler Beach’s Karen Barchowski, a chef who left a distinctive signature on the restaurant’s daily fare and gave the place a name more for its gastronomy than for its golf links.

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28 Responses for “Flagler Beach’s Golden Lion Cafe Set To Take Over Palm Harbor Golf Restaurant”

  1. Robjr says:

    Big deal.
    The golf course operation is a loser. Changing management in the restaurant is not going to stop those 6 figure loses each year.

    The city should get out of the golf course business. It is the fault of the previous council who knew nothing about golf course operations and past performance proved the point.

    This town council thinks it knows about golf course operations and investments and it will blunder down its own path and continue to let the tax payers foot the bill for a losing effort.

    Get Out and I don’t mean the movie.

  2. Ben Dover says:

    I used to have the cleaning contracts on that golf course . Cypress Knoll , Matanzas Woods, and Pine Lakes for like 12 yrs before ITT left town , then Lowe came in and ran them all into the ground.

  3. That_Salty_Mermaid says:

    This is excellent news! Love the Lion, hope this helps boost business at the golf course.

  4. Kathy A says:

    I wish them the best. The Golden Lion is a great place and they certainly know how to operate a restaurant.

  5. Sw says:

    Its worth a shot

  6. Mark101 says:

    So what are the hours of operation for this adventure ?
    so if they do sell hard liquor will this also be a place for dinner and “Golden Lion type food” which does include the selling of liquor or will this place be solely a golf course with a bar and your typical burger, fish sandwiches, fries and of course beer. .

  7. Oops says:

    Yeah, people will be lined up to golf now that the restaurant is improved.smh it’s just throwing good money after bad

  8. Rick Belhumeur says:

    Good for them, I only hope that the golf course survives so they get their return on investment. As I recollect, they are also planning a waterfront location in Palm Coast.

  9. Lou says:

    Sounds great.
    Is the land the restaurant is on owned by the City of Palm Coast? Just curious.

  10. Fredrick says:

    The bleeding will never stop…….

  11. A tiny manatee says:

    Extending mediocre food and bad service to a troubled facility, seems like a good match to me

  12. Michael Ungaro says:

    A round of golf should be the complete package. Golf then lunch or dinner with your group. This is a step in the right direction. It will make Palm Harbor a more desirable place to play! Good luck to the green Lion team!

  13. Tired of it says:

    The Golden Lion has great food and is always busy. Just try to get a table on a Friday or Saturday evening in FB. I think it can only help having a restaurant with that type of following in PC, but I don’t see how it will improve the golf course side unless more people golf there as a result of the restaurant being there.

  14. Layla says:

    Sad to see this happening. I may be the only person in Palm Coast who enjoyed this place because it offered an alternative to the constant fried foods on the menu of the Golden Lion. How many more fried food restaurants can a tiny Florida town hold? Sorry, Golden Lion, but I am not a fan.

  15. Layla says:

    Michael, they were already doing this, and UNFRIED was an option. Not sure the Lion is the best choice for a place like this. But good luck and we’ll hope for the best. I can eat a chicken salad sandwich at home.

  16. Old Lady says:

    Sounds wonderful, hope these gentlemen will; turn the restaurant around. Can’t get much better than the Golden Lion’s reputation. trant around

  17. RayD says:

    Good idea but as a golfer, it does not make a difference to me. Currently, the best public course in the area is Grand Reserve and food is not an issue there. Golfers want to play golf, not eat a fish sandwich. Palm Harbor’s layout lends it to congestion and slow play like Cypress.

  18. Ed says:

    This article comes across as informative but also with a bent towards a negative bias against the golf course in general. As a member, I have made a financial commitment to the Palm Harbor facility, I have seen this course improve in playability, appearance and favorable reviews from all those who have ACTUALLY played and enjoyed the course. Are all those negative comments equally given to the many bike paths that have dotted the landscapes of Palm Coast? Are all those negative comments equally given to the high cost of building a community center? Are they revenue generating expenditures? Are those negative comments equally given to all the sports and outdoor activity facilities that aren’t revenue generating expenditures?

    A city government is suppoosed to provide the necessary facilities for its citizens and also offer a leisure outlet for all to enjoy and to attract tourists, visitors and potential future permanent residents.

    I pay my property taxes just like everyone else living in Palm Coast and because I don’t particarly particpate in other city amenities, I don’t advocate closing the bike paths, having a smaller and less expensive community center, or a more conservative expenditure on parks and other outdoor facilities. We all pick and choose what we like to enjoy and appreciate the ability to do so. It’s very easy to get on the bandwagon and criticize but let’s try to criticize from knowledge and understanging and not from an agenda. Let’s make Palm Coast a place to be enjoyed by a diversity of people.

  19. JasonB says:

    I fail to see how this will improve the situation. What the new slogan going to be, come for the golf, stay for the mediocre food? I’ve been to the Golden Lion, the only thing going for them is the cold beer and the view.

  20. Born and Raised Here says:

    The golf courses are one of the reasons Palm Coast came into existense. Some of the sub division were first developed with a golf course as a marketing tool to attract potential buyers to purchase a lot, and then have there home built. So without this plan by ITT in it’s development of Palm Coast the community would not be what it is today. So with that said, we must put all we can to allow Palm Harbor GC and Golden Lion meet it’s goal.

  21. Mac says:

    Give the process a chance, the City is following a proven path to solvency by reducing expenses at Palm Harbor Golf Club.

  22. palmcoaster says:

    I wholly agree that the permanency of our Palm Harbor Golf Course is Vital for the property values of not hundreds but probably thousands of homes in its vicinity and also for the enjoyment of the scenery and the golf aficionados. The few dollars a year that cost us its subsidy is well spent, like any other funds spent building and maintaining other community facilities around! I totally agree with Ed, Born and Raised and others.

  23. Palm Coast Pioneers says:

    Levitt and I.T.T. Advertising Promo, c. 1970…Seen on three Continents of the World:

    “Palm Coast is a Family Kind of Place”

    Palm Coast offers you…

    A better place, a better life, a better way.

    An excellent long-term investment with promising potential for the future.

    An excellent location for a second hom. A place for vacatons, long weekends or year round living..a place to retire to, far from big city noise, smog and high taxes…yet only hours away by jet.

    Palm Coast is a place were the sun came one summer and decided to stay all year. You will always enjoy the weather at Palm Coast..we like to say we have three seasons..Spring, Summer and an early Fall, all Winter.

    We will offer waterfron lots and inland lots. A beautiful rolling golf course and tennis courts are seceduled for completion by 1971. A marina dna a Modern Golf Club House are scheduled for completion in 1972. Palm Coast will offer you all you’d want for an active wel-rounded life.

    You don’t have to build immediately. You can buy a lot now and build later. Many people will hold their properties for five, ten or fifteen years before building , selling or trading.

    Palm Coast will be the kind of place you’d want for you and your family…a fun in the sun community…a place where the gold is in the winter sun.

    ( My family and also I made multiple purchases before ‘ the Palm Coast Project Opened ‘. I am Steward of much including the above Advertising Promo. used by Levitt & I.T.T. initially shown on three Continents of the World.
    How fortunate I saw Palm Coast before it opened; even more fortunate to be asked to start the Formal Application with the State of Florida Historic Preservation Offices for Historic Status for the ‘ Palm Coast Golf Club ‘ a.k.a. ‘ Palm Harbor Golf Club ‘. I did this and the process has started. I hope the above gives you a ‘ sense of place ‘ and helps convey the origins of this Historic Golf Club. Thank You very much.)

  24. Anonymous says:

    I still can’t believe that golf course loses money, there is enough rounds played to be profitable. I don’t know what they are charging these days to play and how the fee structure works but the course should break even. Hopefully these changes will turn things around for the City.

  25. Phil Chanfrau says:

    I play golf at the city Palm Harbor golf course. On several occasions I have played with golfers who drove 30 or more miles to play the course. They all have been complimentary about the course in comparison to other public courses in northeast Florida. Most learned about our little gem online. It has a good website with nice pictures. After hurricane Matthew came through the grounds crew had the course cleaned up and reopened within a week. The inside staff works hard and is concerned about losing their jobs. This is unfortunate, and bad policy. I hope our City will not try to nickel-dime this asset. It means a lot to have a great public course in Pal Coast to a lot of people. Hopefully restaurant operations will enhance the experience.

  26. Palm Coast Pioneers says:

    @ Phil Chanfrau
    Truly, ‘ Thank You ‘ very much for sharing that encouraging information about your fellow Golf players.
    Perhaps you may want to share this official State of Florida Historic MARKER information with them:
    https://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=103420 .
    Again, Thank You very much.

  27. Mark101 says:

    @Layla FYI GoldenLion does offer grilled as a option to fried, I get grilled all the time.. I cannot do anything fried these days. So I guess we will see what this satellite restaurant offers.

  28. Jill Madden says:

    As a property owner in this neighborhood we are THRILLED that the Golden Lion team is willing to invest capital to not only open their second location here -but also invest in improving our neighborhood gem-the Palm Harbor Golf Course. There will always be naysayers-trust me when I say the people who actually live here and golf here are thrilled!!!! Can’t wait to see the results!!

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