Beach concession bidders make presentations
SUN PHOTO/PAT COPELAND
James Lahman, of
Loggerheads of Bradenton, makes a presentation
on the Coquina Beach concession.
BRADENTON – Four groups hoping to land a five-year contract to operate concessions at the public beaches made presentations to a committee of Manatee County officials last week.
Committee members are Cindy Turner, director of the parks and recreation department; Melissa Assha, contract and buying manager; Elliott Falcione, of the convention and visitor’s bureau; and Mike Whelan, of the parks and recreation department.
Manatee Public Beach has four bidders – Café on the Beach/P.S. Beach Associates; Blue Wave, a division of Sunrise Sunset Concessions; United Park Services; and Loggerheads LLC at Holmes Beach. For Coquina Beach, there are three – all of the above with the exception of Café on the Beach/P.S. Beach Associates.
At Manatee Beach the approved bidder would be taking over or continuing the operation of the concession stand, but at Coquina Beach, a new concession stand will be built in the same footprint as the current one. The county will provide the shell and the bidder will finish the inside.
Last week, bidders made presentations, which are given in order of their appearance.
United Park Service
This company headquartered in Tampa provides concessions at Fort De Soto Park in Pinellas County.
Plans for Manatee Beach include making the back the front with a wall mural, new awnings, white trim and the addition of an ice cream window and a beverage hut, president Alan Kahana said. The group also proposes to make over the dining area with a Key West color combo, foliage, new furniture and historic photos.
Bike and ocean kayak rentals are also planned, and the group has proposed numerous special events. Kahana said people like the existing menu, and they propose a similar one with the addition of tropical fare, drinks and ice cream flavors.
The company partners with Nature’s Academy, which provides environmental, educational and supplemental school programs and plans to provide a program here. The non-profit group is based in Manatee County.
“Our mission is to get local folks outdoors to learn about the environment,” Dana Lawson, of Nature’s Academy, explained, adding that Leffis Key and Coquina Beach would be ideal for this program.
Kahana said he expects 12 percent profitability at this beach and is offering a percentage of profits to the county. He said it could expect $340,000 to $400,000 the first year.
"We are committed to being in the beach concession business,” Kahana said in closing. “It is in line with what we do for a living. Our passion is to come here and spend the next 20 years.”
At Coquina, the company would install a 400-square-foot gift shop. Roaming carts would offer drinks, lotion, snacks, etc. to beachgoers, and rentals would include kayaks, bicycles and scooters.
The menu would feature an all you can eat buffet on Friday night, but breakfast is questionable due to the distance from motels, partner Mark Enoch said. Limited food service would be provided from a temporary trailer during construction.
Kahana proposed a small eco-lodge, with 10 to 12 RV-style units that can be removed if a storm threatens, or five-star tents with a canvas structure, wooden floor and furniture.
Kahana offered 10 percent on the first $1 million and 12 percent on anything above that. He said the company would take Manatee Beach by itself, but would not take Coquina Beach unless it got Manatee.
James Lahman, of Loggerheads of Bradenton, said his experience is in the restaurant business, while partners Robert and Sarah Kline have 10 years experience with concessions. Another partner is Henry O’Malley.
Their vision for Manatee Beach includes painting the building a salmon color, adding foliage, stuccoing over the brick and adding tiki totem poles and lighting, life-sized turtle figures throughout the property and thatched roofs on the concession tables.
They plan to gut the pancake house and make it a tropical food bar, but keep the pancakes on a breakfast buffet inside. There would be themed dinner buffets and signature items added to the menu. Eight to 10 servers would alleviate the bottleneck at the window.
Lahman said they plan to offer rentals of umbrellas, chairs, cabanas and ocean kayaks and Fun and Sun Parasail would provide a shuttle to its location. A second phase of improvements would include a children’s water park by the playground.
The group plans extensive promotions for events and every event will include a T-shirt from their line of Loggerwear, which will be offered in the gift shop.
Lahman said the first year, the county would get $214,000 plus 4 percent of both alcohol sales and the total gross after taxes.
“There’s so much more we feel we can do,” Lahman said. “We’re a family owned company, and we live in Manatee County. We want to operate in our back yard and give new energy and life to this place.”
At Coquina Beach, Lahman said they would use the same color scheme, with cobblestones, thatched roofs, tiki totems and new tables and chairs. Adjacent to the playground they would install a wrecked pirate ship as an additional play area.
Food and service would be the same as at Manatee, except they would not have the breakfast or dinner buffets. Limited food service will be provided from a temporary trailer during construction.
Promotions and events would be the same as Manatee. They proposed a summer camp, which would be called Hatchlings, for youths at both beaches.
They offered a base rent of $14,000 with 6 percent of total gross sales. The said they would prefer both concessions, but would take either.
Café on the Beach
Café on the Beach/P.S. Beach Associates has operated both beach concessions since 1992 and the Beach Shop, a gift shop, since 1989. Tom Vayias and John Menihtas, of Café on the Beach, lease the concessions from Dee Percifield Schaefer and her husband, Gene, of P.S. Beach Associates.
Vayias said they felt that the county should dictate the improvements, but they plan to beautify the appearance of the facility by adding eco-friendly lighting, decorative pavers, planters with tropical foliage and a metal roof; extending the patio; renovating the pancake house; painting and replacing the awnings and installing a new sign.
They plan to continue with rentals of beach chairs and umbrellas, but don’t plan to bring in bicycles, scooters and kayaks due to safety issues. They host a number of special events and would be amenable to adding more.
The Schaefers said they plan to operate the gift shop for another five years and after that, Vayias said the restaurant could be expanded into half the gift shop area if the parking is adequate.
They are the only group offering a monthly rental fee with no profit sharing, which will guarantee the county a certain amount each month whether its the slow or busy season. He pointed out that there would be no interruption of service or closure for renovations.
“We’ve been making a presentation to the county for seven years,” Vayias said. “I’m a hands on operator and take pride in the restaurant. We’re excited about the opportunity to continue to operate the concession.”
They did not offer a bid on Coquina Beach.
This company is headquartered in Nokomis and has concession contracts at Siesta Key and Lido beaches, Snook Haven in Venice and the Manatee County and Buffalo Creek golf courses.
President Peder Jansson said he would create a Key West look with colors, canopies, plants and trees, new signage and a mural across the rear of the building and enhance the playground.
For the food service, he would offer table service, an alcohol dispensing station and eliminate half the gift shop to install an ice cream parlor. All food service materials would be biodegradable. He would replace kitchen equipment and reduce the size of the kitchen to add more storage and shelving.
The company’s plans include a hair wrap stand and a Beach Ambassadors program using retired people to man information booths. Jansson said at Siesta Beach the county offers a Beach University, which could be explored here.
Rentals would include bicycles, chairs, volleyballs and the like and Jansson would bring in Adirondack chairs for beachgoers. Special events would include volleyball games, sandcastle contests and inviting local high school bands to play.
“I would add character and charisma,” Jansson said. “It has no flavor and looks like a warehouse.”
At Coquina Beach, partner Bob Pepe said they see two visions – a beach for families with sandcastle contests, events and water fitness activities for kids and a community gathering place for weddings, class reunions and parties.
Dave Cook, of Wheel Fun Rentals, proposed an ambitious rental program from surreys to kayaks on the beach side. On the bay side he said he could offer eco tours with kayaks, jon boats, paddleboats and fishing equipment.
Jansson said he plans to use pastel colors on the concession stand and bring in Adirondack chairs for beachgoers. Limited food service would be provided from a temporary trailer during construction.
For rent, Jansson offered 8 percent for the first five years and would negotiate after that. He said he would take either or both concessions.
The committee plans to meet to discuss the presentations and make a recommendation to County Administrator Ed Hunzeker, who will take it to county commissioners.