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Greasy Spoon No More? Flagler Beach Ready to Negotiate New Lease for Pier Restaurant

| December 21, 2010

pier restauerant flagler beach

An eyesore looking for its iconic image back. (© FlaglerLive)

The Pier Restaurant’s greasy-spoon days in Flagler Beach may be numbered. The Flagler Beach City Commission is holding a special public meeting at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday at City Hall to review an 11-year lease that would turn over the property from long-time restaurant owner Kaitlin Meyer to Raymond Barshay, who runs River Grille on the Tomoka, an Ormond Beach restaurant. The 48-year-old pier property is owned by the city, which must approve any lease transfer or change.

Nothing is a given. The commission has known for almost five years that Katalin Meyer, who’s held the lease to the property since 1988, has been trying—fitfully—to sell. Her lease doesn’t run out until 2012. She considered selling in 2006. Commissioners were about to discuss a sale to St. Augustine-based entrepreneur Don Becker in May that year, only to see Meyer retreat at the last minute. Meyer began negotiating on her own with Barshay late last year, and even worked out an “ironclad” deal with him. They couldn’t execute it because the commission must approve it first.

To the frustration of Barshay and other local restaurant owners, who wanted their own chance at taking over the lease (the Flagler Fish Company especially), commissioners’ moves at every turn over the last 12 months have been inconclusive or contradictory. They asked their staff to prepare a “white paper” about the restaurant that they then used as a basis to solicit interest—not bids—from potential restaurant owners in spring. Even that tactic lacked clarity. Commissioners refused to advertise the solicitations in more than three newspapers in the state (Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville) and acted coy over what, precisely, they were seeking. It wasn’t a serious effort, and a few nibbles aside, no one responded seriously.

Meanwhile, the Pier Restaurant has turned from an iconic city trademark into something of an eyesore, and a blot on the city’s reputation. To many visitors, a stop there sets the tone for the city as a whole. What they find inside is dilapidation: the structure echoes the quality of the food and the atmosphere, according to testimonies collected by a consultant the city hired in fall to provide an objective perspective on the restaurant and how to approach a new lease. The report, produced in October, was damning. “This icon location today does not promote the city the way she deserves,” the report stated. “This is the flagship and identity of Flagler Beach.” Instead, the report concluded, the property was dragging down the city’s reputation.

That was enough for the commissioners to take a more convincing approach to transferring the lease and working out a new, long-term one with Barshay. They assigned their attorney to write a new lease. That’s the document they’ll be discussing Wednesday.

The lease is not significantly different from what Barshay was proposing: $36,000 a year in rent for each of the first and second year. The 11-year lease would then have rent increase in the third year and every year after that by 3 percent. The lease includes a provision that would raise the base rent every year in accordance with the federal consumer price index (the rate of inflation). It’s not clear whether the CPI would be in addition to the 3 percent increases. Barshay would have the option to renew the lease in five-year increments for 20 years, resulting in a total lease term of 31 years.

The city would also stand to make extra profits: Barshay would have to provide monthly gross sales reports to the city. Based on those figures, the city would take in 2 percent of all sales over $1 million over the year.

Barshay would operate the restaurant much as he does the River Grille—as American fare. He’s proposing to invest up to $500,000 in the run-down property. But the city, as the landlord, would build a 20 by 80 foot deck for outdoor dining.

Barshay would maintain the restaurant in excellent shape throughout the life of the lease. (The same strictures were part of the Meyer lease.) The restaurant is to be open seven days a week, offering breakfast, lunch and dinner.

One significant difference: the consultant’s report had recommended that the new lease holder spend between 2 and 5 percent of gross sales on marketing and advertising. That requirement is nowhere in the lease.

Note: the article has been corrected from an earlier version to reflect that the city, not Barshay, would be responsible for building the deck.

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11 Responses for “Greasy Spoon No More? Flagler Beach Ready to Negotiate New Lease for Pier Restaurant”

  1. lawabidingcitizen says:

    People doing business with Flagler Beach must think they died and went to heaven.

    It would be difficult to imagine a more gullible, incompetent, ill-informed and self-important group of people than the Flagler Beach commissioners who are spending our dwindling taxes with the abandon of drunks left alone in a brewery.

    Happy New Year!



  2. A Long-time FB Resident says:

    HALLELUJAH !!! For years we have steered friends, family members and anyone who inquired away from the Pier Restaurant. We have refereded to it for MANY years as “TERRIBLE FOOD WITH A GREAT VIEW.” We quit going a long time ago when we started having to fight with the roaches for our food. For a few years before Charlie passed away it wasn’t too bad, but it REALLY deteriorated after that. And how inviting was it to walk by the open door with the garbage slop on the way to the front door?

    I applaud the city for getting new tenants. We often go down to OB to the River Grille, hopefully the new operators will maintain the same standards here in FB.

    A Local Diner

  3. betamax says:

    Since the city obviously has taken no responsibility in maintaining the pier restaurant or the bait shop. it would be great to see the centerpiece of town look like a restaurant that actually takes advantage of being directly on the beach. I would take a good look at the underside of the building, looks like alot a work.

  4. John Smith says:

    It is great to see the Meeyers gone. BYE BYE BILLY





  7. lambert owner says:

    I have lived on Lambert for over 12 years and the sorry ass Flagler PD is scared of Billy, the idiot has no respect for for anyone on the street and the scared PD will not handle his disrespect for the law! It will all come to ahead when one of our children are hit by this jerk! Please run this clan out! Make the pier a tourist location to be proud of.

  8. . says:

    Who is billy???

  9. SAW says:

    Never mind Billy, who is the alias JOHN SMITH, and why does he or she not speak on any of these issues at city meetings, it is very evident that he, or she is an expert on all things ?

  10. John Smith says:

    Well SAW you are so right. Expert I am, I simply KNOW the difference between right and wrong. I KNOW Billy Meyers is a jerk and have seen how he treats people and it will be nice to see them gone. Lets see, the commission meetings, well if I thought they were do something that was wrong in my book I would say something as I have in the past, oh you must not have been at that meeting. And why is so important that you be seen at a meeting standing up at the podium making a ass out of yourself when you have the ones who think they are so much better doing it for you. Evidently you are pretty sharp as to what does this have to do with the greasy spoon article. If every one would get around as I do and see the things I get to see everyday as I do, WELL I KEEP MY EYES AND EARS OPEN. And yes I do not have the luxury of not working and just look for something that is not the way I like it going on.

  11. Resident says:

    We have not eaten in that place in 20 years, since my husband saw a roach in his glass of tea.
    I also knew a waitress there who said rats were running in the kitchen all the time. My God!! Tear the place down and start over.

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