Last Updated: 11:56 a.m.
It was not the sort of response Palm Coast government was hoping for.
Today at 2 p.m. was the initial deadline for interested parties to submit a bid to replace the Green Lion Cafe at the city-owned Palm Harbor Golf Club. The city issued a request for proposals on Aug. 24. It had not received a single bid by this morning. So it extended the bidding window to September 29 at 2 p.m., based at least on some interest shown by two parties.
“We have two that have indicated an intent to bid, but haven’t completed the submittal, that’s why we are going to extend it,” Jason DeLorenzo, the city’s chief of staff, said today. “I don’t think it’s too common for restaurants to have to do this kind of RFP.”
After the interview with DeLorenzo, approaching noon, one party did file a bid, which was under review by procurement officials for qualification. (The article’s initial headline was: “Not One Bid Filed By Deadline for Green Lion Restaurant Replacement, so City Extends Window,” referring to today’s deadline, which by then had already been extended to Sept. 29.)
The lack of an enthusiastic response makes two things clear: first, claims constantly repeated on social media and in comments to previous articles about the Green Lion debacle that the city had a secret, interested bidder lined up to take over are false. Second, the city may have a harder time replacing the Green Lion than the council’s confidence assumed, especially in an economic climate flashing many warning signs of recession, assuming the economy isn’t already in recession (by traditional measures of two successive quarters of negative economic growth, it is, though other indicators, such as employment, consumer spending and construction permitting still point to a robust economy).
The city is not releasing the names of the interested parties. By law, it does not have to disclose bidders’ names until either the city announces an intent to award a bid or until 30 days after the bids are opened, whichever comes first. But the Green Lion does not appear to be among the interested parties: bidding documents indicate what companies or parties have downloaded them, and the Green Lion is not among them. Still, savvy bidders also know they can fabricate a proxy to download documents, so their identity is not publicly revealed. Some have done just that.
Those bidding documents include one clear interest from a local restaurant: Thai and I, the Bunnell restaurant that Bounseng Lodbansa of Palm Coast opened earlier this year at 603 North State Street, or U.S. 1, at the location of the old State Street Diner.
Several entities that have downloaded documents are procurement agencies that then re-disseminate the request for proposal. Other entities that have downloaded documents include Francis McSweeney’s McSweeney Investments of Orange Park, an entity that first registered with the state Division of Corporations in July. Another is Connecticut-based Debo Food Services, a company that contracts with vendors who sell food in office buildings, on college campuses, in transportation hubs and the like. Golf Automation, which manages golf courses, also acquired documents.
On Aug. 25 and Sept. 12, the city issued a pair of amendments to the RFP, one of them disclosing pictures of the property, the other answering five questions that had been posed by interested parties.
The second addendum‘s five questions, based on their specificity, suggest at least some serious intent to bid. A potential bidder is asking whether beverage cart attendants may be used, which would enable the operator to sell drinks to people playing golf, using a cart. (“Yes,” the city responded, “but you will need to supply the cart as well.”) Kemper Sports, which managed the golf course for the city until 2017, had operated just such a cart, and the original agreement with the Green Lion gave it that opportunity, which the Green Lion opted not to exercise. When Kemper operated the cart, it used a city vehicle. That vehicle has since been discarded. When the city bought new golf carts, it did not guy a beverage cart, leaving it to a potential bidder tj procure it.
Another question wondered about the possibility of extending the five-year lease’s additional options to a total of 20 years (“The city will consider terms for additional extensions as part of the final lease negotiation”), and two identical questions related to health department records.
Potential bidders may yet ask questions, with the deadline for those questions now pushed back to Sept. 22.
DeLorenzo was involved in negotiations with Green Lion management for over a year to rewrite their lease, and came close to agreement on two occasions. The city Council both times derailed the tentative agreement, making demands that neither the Green Lion was willing to concede nor the city administration had made part of the tentative lease. After months of rollercoaster negotiations, including open negotiations between the Green Lion and the council, the council issued the restaurant an ultimatum, which the Green Lion let pass, indicating it was likely no longer interested in continuing a relationship with the city.
The open proposal seeks a bidder willing to pay $3,000 a month in rent and utilities, including water. That’s up from the $600 a month the Green Lion had been paying, though the city and the restaurant had come close to increasing that manyfold before the agreement was derailed.
The $3,000 a month rent would be similar to what the Funky Pelican in Flagler Beach paid the city for rent at what used to be the Pier Restaurant (the city owns the pier and the restaurant property), but only in the first two years of that lease, back in 2011 and 2012. The lease included a 3 percent annual increase, bringing current rent to just under $4,000, and it includes a profit-sharing clause: the Funky Pelican is required to pay the city 3 percent of all gross sales in excess of $1 million a year. None of those provisions are part of the Palm Harbor Golf Club restaurant’s lease.
RFP-PR-22-74 Concession Lease Agreement Palm Harbor Golf Course Proposal Manual
What goes around comes around, it is called Karma.
Maybe the City Council should go back to the current Operators of the Green Lion and follow the wishes of the PC Community and strike a new deal. That, however, is not practical since this Board thinks that they do not have heed the wishes of their Constituents. I cannot wait for the next election when they can be voted out. Maybe our Mayor doesn’t pay attention since he is a Bunnell Resident.
Too late, the owners are opening another restruant “Next Door” in Flagler Beach. In essence they are giving a Big F U to Palm Coast, which is well deserved. The City should give out multiple awards for driving out a good and well established business.
You may want to take a geography class. Our Mayor is a nearby neighbor of mine and his home is very much in Palm Coast.
Randy Bentwick says
I hope it stays vacant and then falls apart and the city has to condemn it!!
1st assumption could be wrong – “city had a secret, interested bidder lined up to take over are false” – maybe not false, maybe they reconsidered after seeing the combined results of Green Lion and Waste Pro – building trust is difficult once lost as residents are discovering on many issues. Stop listening to residents (voters) has consequences. The city has a problem finding candidates that actually like residents.
Maybe they can install a Splash Pad there instead ? Or expand the golf course to become a golf & racquet club with pickleball courts ? Then there’s always the option of building a pool there for a swim club ? A great location for a new school or even more affordable apartment housing ?
I like the fact that this is backfire on those so called representatives of the City. Bet they’ve never been in a business. Greed is the new word.
That’s 100% right They have destroyed a great to come and eat Can’t wait to vote against all these people
Dennis C Rathsam says
No one wants to deal with the the city of Palm Coast. The city is runnig in circles…trying to catch its tale. Lies, insults, misconduct runs rampet. Too many chiefs, not enough indians. Instead of working togeather for the betterment of Palm Coast, they are working to tear it appart. Not one of these “BOZO,S, have listened to the people of this city! All I see is me, me, me…Not we, thats why nothing gets done….And when they do something its either overkill, or another DO OVER.
I just keep saying this over and over.
Our senior management can’t manage anything. We are paying more for taxes, more for garbage service getting less services.
Can’t build a splash pad and yet you expect some qualified restaurant owner to bid a trailer restaurant. They were lucky to have the Golden Lion there in the first place.
They survived Covid only to be taken out by the black plague of Palm Coast City Government and it’s Inept City Manager and incompetent staff.
When’s the next election!!!!!!
Jack Howell says
I hate to say it, but the City Council did a major F-up on this deal. The Green Lion was a good restaurant and bailed the city out of the fund-losing golf operation. True, that many significant concessions were made at the beginning of the Green Lion’s opening. However, some of the sticking points in contract re-negotiations could have been worked out with the help of an arbitrator. It makes no sense to destroy a business that was prospering. I don’t believe any council members have a history of running a restaurant! Yet they ALL feel eminently qualified to comment on how the conduct of restaurant operations and management. The issue of water usage and rent increase could have been better handled instead of the threats, yelling, and the horrible way it was handled by the council members. I think that an olive branch should be extended. As a former member of the city council, I would be more than happy to see if we can get all parties back to the negotiation table. But, I’m not going to hold my breath! As it stands now, the real losers are the people of Palm Coast.
We miss you, Jack! You are the voice of reason, wisdom and knowledge.
Debo Food Services shows they are temporarily closed in Connecticut! Would that mean they downloaded app and plan to relocate. To FL?
Are those others mentioned still in business or closed too?
Not a fan says
I don’t understand the big deal about the Green Lion. I went there a couple of times. The service was terrible, the prices too high and the food was not good. I mean, it’s a trailer on a golf course.
If it was so terrible, why did you go back? Why are you even here commenting if the Green Lion is so insignificant to you?
Wow, either your taste buds have completely left your body, or maybe you were the victim of one of the amature golfers accidentally targeting your head with their tee shot? Maybe you are unaware that the Green Lion is so completely packed with diners on many days that you need a reservation to get a table? What they have done with that trailer building on the golf course is nothing short of amazing!
After the way they screwed Green Lion over, anyone would be a fool to even consider bidding or commiting to a lease.
Lynn Stote says
Jack Howell always was a common sense -no nonsense type of person. Maybe have Jack get involved and maybe something positive will happen. I agree that the powers to be probably never operated a bar restaurant . You need someone that is non-political to get involved with this endeavor!
I hope they make it a LGBQT club with a drag show once or twice a month. Flagler Beach needs a place for members of our community to have fun!
Best idea I’ve heard yet. Flagler Beach would make a great LGBQT “capitol” city for North FL.
I also think we as a community should do more with the BLM movement. It would be great to see BLM and the LGBQT community have monthly events at Veterans Park.
Celia Pugliese says
We enjoyed the Green Lion many times and their food and service was excellent! That restaurant helped make the success of the golf course and created many jobs! The city goofed up big like they did with Waste Pro our beloved waste contractor! All will have consequences. I agree with Jack’s Olive branch suggestion!
What was good about Waste Pro? Not on time, throwing the empty containers to the middle of the driveway, or to the street, or ditch. Twice I had to exit my car in the middle of the street and move the containers , so I could pull up to my garage. (I have pictures to prove it). Another time they threw and broke one of the beans . After waiting a month for the new one, I still didn’t get it. Skipping my address for Wednesday pickup was not uncommon either (and not because it was too much of it or packed wrongly). So, maybe in some exclusive areas of Palm Coast they did good service, not where I live.
I understand that Hooters will submit a bid early next week.
C. J. says
Like, who wants to volunteer to be the next business to be screwed by the City?
I just wonder if one of the disclosures to anyone interested in submitting a bid is that the city has continued to refuse the Green Lion’s request to locate a trash dumpster next to the restaurant, resulting in restaurant employees having to haul the restaurant’s garbage a half mile away to where their dumpster is located. From what the Marlow family has previously stated, that is one huge problem for the restaurant that they have been fighting ever since opening the Green Lion. Do these potential bidders even know what they are getting into with the city? It is almost like a deal with the devil, and I am even more astounded that the Green Lion has not only withstood, but has overcome so many obstacles put in their way by the city and STILL managed to run a very successful, wonderful local food destination for five years. I say BRAVO to the Marlow family and the great staff at the Green Lion for what they have built, and I hope they stick around because this local restaurant is a gem!
Keith A says
The owners of the Green Lion took a glorified snack bar at a mediocre city owned golf course and manage to make it a successful going concern until some politicians again want to cash in on of the efforts of the private sector. Good luck with that $3,000 per month plus yearly increases. Do they really think this place is worth anywhere near what you’re getting for funky pelican?
Here for the comments says
We can all agree these commissioners are in over their head with these negotiations, but look no further then the mirror.You voted this commission in,voters,what were you thinking?Pretty easy to see how inept they are yet you still voted for them.
Times Up! says
Thursday, 9/29 at 2pm, all the bids must be submitted. I wonder if the delayed submission will see any interested parties rushing to work with PC after what happened to The Green Lion? Hope the answer is a show of no interest.