The days and nights of the Green Lion Restaurant at Palm Harbor Golf Course, one of the city’s most popular destinations, are drawing to a close, and those of Loopers Restaurant, its replacement, are just ahead.
The Palm Coast City Council is set to approve a five-year lease with Loopers, the restaurant owned by Beach Front Grille’s Jamie Bourdeau, at a meeting on Tuesday. The council will first discuss the lease proposal in a workshop segment, then formalize the agreement at the meeting. (“A round of golf is considered a loop and a Looper is another word for a caddie,” the city’s presentation to th council explains.) Bourdeau has run Beach Front Grille in Flagler Beach for eight years.
The last day of the Green Lion, as published by the restaurant on social media, is to be January 14. The lease with Loopers starts Jan. 16. But Loopers will not be charged rent until it receives a certificate of occupation. That’s not expected until around March 1.
Meanwhile, the city will need to spend about two weeks cleaning up the 2,000 square foot restaurant and conducting maintenance, Jason DeLorenzo, the city’s development director, said. Then. Loopers will be doing its own “buildout” to prepare the restaurant according to its own designs. The golf grounds will not be without food options. The city is placing a food truck there starting on Jan. 16 and until Loopers opens. There’s a chance Loopers will have limited options before March 1, depending on how swiftly its construction plans go.
“They’ve been gracious in their transition,” DeLorenzo said of the Green Lion owners, “and the new leasee, if they’re approved, have been excellent to work with.”
The lease proposal is expected to sail through, though for two newly seated council members–Theresa Pontieri and Cathy Heighter–it’ll be their first formal exposure to a mater that occupied (and vexed) the council and the administration for a year and a half. The council no longer has Eddie Branquinho, who had been among the staunchest opponents of a lease that did not recover all city expenses and then some.
The proposed agreement is still relatively generous. It goes much further than the previous agreement to recover overhead costs, but still leaves the city closer to a break-even point than not, so that any structural repairs or improvements to the facility will most likely not be covered by rent.
The agreement with Loopers calls for an annual rent of $18,000, with a 3 percent annual increase–less than half the current inflation rate. In contrast with the agreement with the Green Lion, Loopers will be responsible for paying all electric, propane, phone, and internet costs, as well as half the water and sewer costs generated by the trailer in which the restaurant is located. The trailer also includes city functions such as a pro shop and public bathrooms.
Loopers will serve breakfast (prices ranging from $5 to $17), lunch and dinner (entree prices topping off at $27), including grab and go options at breakfast and lunch. The bar’s happy hour will be every day between 3 and 6 p.m., with discounted cocktails and appetizers. “The mission and objective of the operation is to bring together a casual atmosphere enhanced by a golf course location that will appeal to residents and visitors. The key to success will be the quality in our products, unmatched service, and relaxing atmosphere,” the restaurant’s original proposal to the city read.
Loopers will have the option to renew the lease three times, for five years each time. Loopers will have to open at least eight hours a day, seven days a week, with exceptions on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but not New Year’s eve or day. The restaurant and the city may also coordinate reduced operational hours for five days in a calendar year if it needs to do maintenance or repairs. Live music will be allowed between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, or noon to 8 p.m. the other days of the week.
Utility costs had been a central point of contention in protracted negotiations between the city and the Green Lion, ultimately breaking the deal. The Green Lion’s owners–the Marlow family that owns the Golden Lion in Flagler Beach and will soon open a bistro-type restaurant next to it–did not want to end their tenure at Palm Harbor. But their relationship with the city became increasingly brittle, especially after the council complicated negotiations with last-minute demands of its own.
After a final break-down, the city severed the lease on July 11 and opted to advertise the space for a new restaurant through a request for proposal. Two local restaurants responded. Bunnell’s Thai and I was the other. Bourdeau’s proposal was by far the more elaborate and sure-handed, even to the untrained eye. The city’s procurement team did not hesitate, and scored Loopers well ahead of the other proposal.
Because the city broke the lease, it’s been required to give the Green Lion six months’ free rent, or $3,900. No such clause is part of the new lease.
It’s unusual that the city council would workshop[ an item then consider it for approval at a formal meeeting on the same day. But that’s only because of the holiday schedule. The Tuesday workshop is at its regularly scheduled time. The meeting following the workshop (governments may only take formal votes at meetings, not workshops) would have normally taken place on Dec. 20. It’s being moved up to Dec. 13, and will be the last meeting of the year.
Here we go again……………………………
I have continued to support and have wonderful meals at the Green Lion, and have heard positive comments from the long time employees about what will happen to them when the Green Lion finally closes in January. Fortunately, the Marlow family was already thinking ahead and building a new restaurant, and all of the Green Lion staff will be able to transition to the new location right away. That is great news, and shows how the restaurant’s owners continue to take care of their staff. As it just so happens, I am taking family members our to breakfast at the Green Lion this morning, and when this fine restaurant closes for the last time, that will be the last time I set foot inside that building, as I refuse to be one of the fruit loopers as I protest the disengenuous and unsettling way the lease negotiations were mishandled by the city. I am looking forward to more great meals at the Marlow’s new restaurant in Flagler Beach when it opens next month, and I hope I eventually lose the sour taste in my mouth put there by the dirty dealing that Palm Coast city staff did which caused this whole debacle in the first place. Live and learn folks!
Greg L says
Always a clever strategy, and best for the community, as well, to take out one’s frustrations with city government on a new restaurateur who had nothing to do with the conflict. Very mature; not childish, at all.
Well Greg, we all choose where to eat or not eat, for various individual reasons.
Concerned Citizen says
So they didn’t learn a thing from the first one. And are right back at it again.
Our City and County BOCC need to hear this obviously. And I’ll say it louder for those in the back.
ALL businesses in this county need to be treated the same. Stop wasting our time getting yourselves into constant legal litigation because you want to play favorites. It didn’t work with Captains. It didn’t work with Green Lion. And we will be right back here 6 months to a year from now with the same situation.
Stay out of the commercial leasing business. And learn to run your city. Fairly representing all constituents.
Voters. We need to start doing better to represent ourselves.