Last Updated: Friday, 10:55 a.m.
Last October Jamie Bourdeau, owner of Flagler Beach’s Beach Front Grille, won the bid to run the restaurant at Palm Harbor Golf Club in Palm Coast. He and co-owner Dudley Shaw called it Loopers. It replaced the Green Lion this spring, and is ramping up to full service by next month.
Now, Bourdeau, with a different co-owner–Joseph Wright, owner of Quantum Electrical Contractors and other local businesses–is buying the lease at High Jackers Restaurant at the county airport, a popular, lucrative property that has greatly benefited from the county’s investment at the airport, and significant growth there for more than a decade.
“Nothing changes in our scope,” Flagler County Executive Airport Director Roy Sieger said. “Having a rest at the airport is a nice feature to have. High Jackers had a good run, they had it for 22 years, they’re just making a decision to sell it and moving on to do different things.” However, Sieger noted, “they do plan on changing the name of the restaurant. I don’t know what that would be. I don’t think it’s going to happen right away.” Sieger himself would prefer the name didn’t change, because when he travels around the country, he hears of High Jackers’ established reputation. But he said he could understand the new owners looking to put their own imprint on the business, and it’s not the county’s call.
The county is the 47,000 square foot restaurant’s landlord and has been leasing the property to Flagler Tailwinds for 22 years. That company is owned by Gail Holt and Richard Bancroft of Flagler Beach. Holt owns High Tides at Snack Jack, the celebrated restaurant at the south end of Flagler Beach that has also been maliciously targeted by two hurricanes in the last six years, but keeps defying the tides.
Bourdeau and Wright are calling their company, incorporated in mid-February, Quantum Cowboys. It already lists High Jackers’ location as its address: 202 Airport Road. Quantum Cowboys is paying Holt $700,000, according to a county official and another person familiar with the transaction. The county will not see any part of that money. Bourdeau could not be reached before this article initially published.
The county’s lease with Tailwinds includes an “assignment and subletting” provision. The lease-holders are exercising the assignment provision, which means that Quantum Cowboys will step into the shoes of the existing lease-holders and assume all responsibilities from that point forward. There is no sublease. “They sold the bus for around $700,000, so basically the county does a document that assigns the lease from tailwinds to Quantum Cowboys,” Sieger said.
Assignment is contingent on the County Commission’s approval. The County Commission is taking up the assignment at its meeting Monday, when it is expected to approve it. It is not an opportunity for the county to renegotiate the lease, Based on the assignment provision’s wording, the county’s consent cannot be unreasonably withheld, as long as the new owners have a demonstrable capability of running a restaurant.
The county administration memo to the commissioners in preparation for Monday’s decision reveals that Beach Front grille “averages $2.25 million in annual sales.” Wright is described as the owner of Quantum Air Conditioning, Quantum Auto Repair, and Anthony’s Pizza in Palm Coast and St. Augustine, businesses that “have done more than $10 million in revenue in the last seven years,” according to the county’s memo to commissioners. Wright is already a tenant at the airport, leasing a hangar there.
The memo notes Bourdeau’s new acquisition of the restaurant at Palm Harbor Golf Club–without noting the protracted battles, to which Bourdeau was not a party, that preceded that acquisition as the former Green Lion’s owners and Palm Coast government clashed. Loopers is being charged less than half the rent at High Jackers, and has fewer of the responsibilities attached to the High Jackers lease.
The county and Tailwinds renewed the lease for 10 years in June 2021, with Tailwinds at the time paying $1,290 a month in rent, or $15,480 a year. Rent increased to $3,000 a month, or $36,000 a year, last June (compared to $1,500 a month for Loopers at Palm Harbor), with annual increases based on each year’s consumer price index as calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That calculation is currently at 5.3 percent, so if that figures holds through May, rent would increase in June to $3,159 a month. The lease holder is responsible for all utilities, including water and sewer, maintenance in and around the building and garbage pick-up.
There are no property taxes. There is no profit-sharing measure, the way there is between Flagler Beach government and the Funky pelican, the restaurant at the city-owned pier. Funky Pelican is required to pay the city 3 percent of all gross sales in excess of $1 million a year. (Funky Pelican’s rent is around $4,000 a month.)
When the High Jackers lease was renewed in 2021, the county acknowledged that it was still well below market value. But two factors went into that lower rate: the history of the restaurant, before Holt took it over in 2001, was poor. And the county imposes numerous requirements on the lease-holder, including all responsibilities for air conditioning systems and roof repairs. A list of repairs and maintenance requirements accompanies the renewal of the lease, all of them the lease-holder’s responsibility. Those included painting the exterior of the building and fixing all damaged wood in the structure ($14,000); replacing the front entrance canopy ($7,500); replacing all awnings, refinishing all floors and rebuilding the front north side of the restaurant with a new brick pathway from the parking lot ($36,000); replacement of the roof ($27,000); replacement of the AC units on an as-needed basis ($6,000 per unit), and other improvements.
Sieger said the new owners intend to go further with improvements.
In essence, the county does not have the usual maintenance responsibilities that landlord does at High Jackers. The assignment document the county drafted, however, does include a nod to recent developments–the decision by the county to end its relationship with a new lease-holder at Bull Creek Fish Camp, and to destroy that building, citing structural damage from flooding. That provision states that if an act of nature such as a flood, a tornado or a hurricane were to demolish the building, the county is under no obligation to the lease holder to rebuild it. But the lease holder has the option to rebuild at its own expense “in order to finish out the term of the Lease or in accordance with a new Lease negotiated by the County and Cowboys in good faith.”
While Quantum Cowboys signed their part of the assignment on April 18, the document is awaiting the county’s signatures. It would take effect on May 17.
G A says
Hi Jackers has been my favorite restaurant in Flagler county since I moved here 14 years ago. Gail has done a marvelous job with it. I sincerely hope the new owner doesn’t try to fix what isn’t broken. The loyal customers will all revolt. I can pretty much
John D says
Was definitley broken. Food had gone downhill along with service. Looking forward to new ownership.
I agree. It has fallen apart over the last 5-8 years. Looking forward to new management.
We have always loved the food at High Jackers restaurant over the many years that we have eaten there. Unfortunately, however, our last meal that we had there about a week ago brought up some red flags and I was left wondering if something was up. Most of the aviation themed decorations that were always hanging from the ceiling were gone, and the food was mediocre at best. I hope the new owners bring what had been a wonderful restaurant back up to par once they take over… as for me, I will wait to go and eat there again until the restaurant has changed ownership and they have had a chance to get on their feet and work out any bugs. Only then will I decide if I want to continue to frequent that location, as we have quite a few other local restaurants that we like and frequent.
How do I get one of these deals says
It’s amazing how a sweetheart $3000. a month lease can get transfered, the restaurant operator gets 700k and the County just gets just $3000.
The County should charge a franchise fee for properties that they own especially if they give sweetheart leases.
According to the article, the owners have to maintain their own repairs and heating, air, etc, The county does not pay for that. It looks like there are several thousands of dollars listed in things that have to be done now. So maybe the rent is lower because the county doesn’t have carry the expenses of maintaining the building. Just a thought
Palm Coast 22 says
The place was falling apart 5 years ago, when I left. I was there for 4 years. Gail never wanted to fix anything because they were gonna knock the building down, when she lost the lease. At least that’s what we were told.
WILLIAM BARRETT says
That is good news, Hijackers has gone down hill since Covid hit. The food and service used to be very good there, but after they reopened since the pandemic it was a whole different place. Good Luck to the new owners and looking forward to some better quality food and service!
Sweet Deal for them says
Clearly people don’t read. This tenant gets $700 k and the county gets a tenant for a long time for zilch. So who’s he friends with to get this crony capitalism deal?
They sold the business they built up for over 22 years for $700k – deservingly. The county owns the building, gets paid $3k/month, and they have no responsibilities for maintaing and improving it, and if the whole thing gets blown away by an Act of God, they are not obligated to rebuild. Also responsible for the rent going up in conjunction with the CPI each year. The new owners also signed on to make over $90k in improvements with the new lease with no cost to the county. The building itself will obviously go up in value over time, and at the expiration of the lease, if the county so chooses, they can sell it for a sizeable profit. That’s a very fair deal for the county.
Jay Tomm says
Will he lower prices? That place got EXPENSIVE!
I know where Im having lunch today says
Been Eating there regularly for 10 years, In my opinion as long as they keep their peel and eat shrimp and the pub fare menu going and Yeungling draft flowing they will do well, It is just interesting to sit and eat watching the planes land and taxi around. Plus they take a thick boneless Pork Ribeye steak, coat it with breading and deep fry it and smother with cheese sautéed onions and mushrooms, they call it a sandwich Im sure theres bread there somewhere it is a belly buster! The new owner should pay attention to how that one is made and not mess it up or my love affair with the place is over! Plus they have nice sandy swingset/fort/ slide play area for the kiddos right on the flightline, not many places have anything for restless young kids to do anymore. McDonald’s and chick -fil-a closed theirs.
Please don’t change a think.
Just don’t mess with the chicken wings. The BA and Highjackers are the only places that had decent wings here in Flagler. I know someone’s gonna tell me that Houligans has good wings… They’re more like pigeon wings than chicken wings.
nancy cross says
please continue with the special on 1 lb of shrimp on wed and thurs. please do not change this or raise the price from 12.00 dollars.
Janice mcintosh says
Please don’t change the menu..love the food and like how the seating is. Is different from other restaurants and that makes it special😀
Tina Blume says
Just hoping the food is better than the BFG… maybe they will get a better chef for that location.
18yrsin PC says
I agree 👍 The food is terrible and the prices ridiculous, however normal nowadays. Good riddance hijackers 👍 I hope the food will be better with the new owner 👍
We have not been to High Jackers in many years. It was excellent in the beginning but like many things it changed. Gail Holt is a great person and business owner. Good luck to her in the future. We are semi regulars at Beach Front Grill and expect the same quality of food and service will come to this location. Good luck to Jamie and his staff for another successful endeavor.
With a family member who is a gourmet chef, he told me that the success of any restaurant is based on the chef. If the food is good people will return. So If this place is to be as good as their place on A1A, they need to hire type of chef. If they do not, they will not succeed. Good luck to them.
I hope they clean it up and give the place a proper entrance for seating. The food quality has gone down in the past few years. Hopefully it will improve. Best of luck!
I commend Jamie for furthering his financial status in local restaurants. God knows we need some good ones. However, Jamie strikes me as “hands-on,” as I saw in the Beach Front Grille. As recently as yesterday, my brother and friends visited Loopers and were thoroughly disappointed in the food received. Something as simple as a panini was burned black on one side, and other food ordered wasn’t prepared properly. Flagler County is suffering from the young people our government paid to stay home; hence, the Java Joint closed shortly because they didn’t have proper staffing to open. Jamie is spreading himself too thin, and his restaurants will suffer in the long run.