GRAPHIC PROVIDED BY UNITED PARK SERVICES
United Park Services proposes to make over
the dining area at Manatee Public Beach
with a Key West color combo, foliage,
new furniture and historic photos. Bicycle
and kayak rentals would be up to the city
of Holmes Beach.
BRADENTON – A committee of three has recommended United Park Services (UPS) to provide concessions at both Manatee and Coquina public beaches with Café on the Beach as the second choice for Manatee Beach.
“I have vacationed on Anna Maria Island all my life,” Alan Kahana,
president of UPS, said. “You have a beautiful community with an easy-going lifestyle, and I’m excited to be a part of that.”
“We’re very excited about starting operations there,” added Mark Enoch, chief financial officer of UPS. “My wife and I are looking forward to moving to the community.”
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, and had hoped to continue that operation.
“We were disappointed,” said Vayias. “We love it here, and we want to continue what everybody has liked for 20 years. We have a lot of customer support; generations have come through here. We’ll continue to fight – there’s still the county commission.
‘We were completely surprised and disappointed,” Percifield Schaefer said. “I told them I think they made a terrible mistake. I feel so sad.”
Committee members were Cindy Turner, director of the parks and recreation department; Melissa Assha, contract and buying manager; and Elliott Falicone, of the convention and visitor’s bureau.
Blue Wave, a division of Sunrise Sunset Concessions; and Loggerheads LLC at Holmes Beach were the other two bidders for Manatee Beach. For Coquina Beach, there were three – all listed previously except Café on the Beach/P.S. Beach Associates.
In March, the bidders made presentations to the committee, and last week the committee discussed the presentations and ranked the bidders.
“We need to consider everything that we’ve read and heard and come to a decision that’s in the best interest of the county,” Assha told committee members.
Committee members said they liked United Park Services’ creative ideas, vision, marketing plan, proposed events and compensation package for Manatee Beach.
“I thought that they gave a very thought out presentation and shared their vision,” Turner said. “They had an excellent diverse package.”
“They had good creative ideas to bring families to the beach and bring them back,” Assha added.
“They were impressive; they covered all the corners,” Falicone said. “They brought uniqueness to the table.”
They did express concern about rentals of bicycles and kayaks there as proposed by the company, but noted that the city of Holmes Beach would make that decision.
What they liked about Café on the Beach was the proven experience, consistency, quality of the food, and reliability but they said they were disappointed in the lack of ideas.
“The compensation package was fair, but I was disappointed with the presentation,” Turner said.
“We wanted to invite ideas, we wanted concepts,” Assha pointed out. “We didn’t get that much from the proposal, but we got willingness.”
“The quality of the food and the passion is there, but the aesthetics of the presentation wasn’t there,” Falicone said. “We wanted to see more creativity.”
“We have to take emotion from the decision. These people are loved, but we have to separate ourselves from that. We’re paid to make the best decision for our community.”
They ranked Loggerheads number 3 and Blue Wave number 4.
However, after the decision, Vayias pointed out, “This place has it’s own beauty; you focus on the food and the beauty of the beach, not special events. We don’t have enough parking for our beachgoers now.
Percifield Schaefer added, “To say we were not enthusiastic; I wonder what 20 years means. We thought we did what people wanted.”
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.
For this beach, committee members were impressed by United’s floor plan for the concession stand, which included retail space; vision; special events package and rental plan. However, they pointed out that the city of Bradenton Beach would have the final decision on rentals.
They ranked Loggerheads number 2 and Blue Wave number 3.
Assha said she will give the recommendations to County Administrator Ed Hunzeker and he can enter into negotiations with United or take the recommendation to the county commission for approval.
“I’m very disappointed that it didn’t go to a local vendor,” County Commissioner Carol Whitmore said. “I’ll make sure it comes to the county commission.”.