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Date of Issue: March 31, 2010

Beach organizations make presentations

Manatee County currently is reviewing bids for the concessions at Manatee Public Beach, currently home to Cafe on the Beach, and Coquina Beach. Four companies submitted proposals to operate the restaurants and other amenities at the beaches. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff

Four companies March 23-24 made public pitches to operate the concessions at Manatee Public and Coquina beaches, delivering presentations to a county recommendations committee.

P.S. Beach Associates’ five-year contract to operate both concessions expired last year, but the contract was extended due to periods when county work at the beach interrupted operations.

P.S. Beach operates both beach concessions, but submitted a bid to only operate Manatee Public Beach in the future.

In February, the county recommendations committee that includes Melissa Assha of the county purchasing department, Elliott Falcione of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Cindy Turner of the county parks and recreation department, asked P.S. Beach and other to expound on their proposals.

So, last week, the companies presented more details on their proposed improvements, and outlined projected revenues under a contract that would begin July 21.

Blue Wave, a division of Sunrise Sunset Concessions in Nokomis, with president Peder Jansson, made proposals for both beach operations. The business has contracts providing food services at Siesta Key Beach, Snook Haven Restaurant, Manatee Golf Course and Buffalo Creek Golf Course.

United Park Services Inc. of Tampa, also bid on both beach concessions. President Alan Kahana said he established a Florida corporation in 2006 to provide food and beverage sales and rental services at Fort DeSoto Park and other venues. Kahana owns the Boneyard Restaurant, Czar, The Castle, Fuma Bella and Dirty Shame Pub in Tampa. He also operates four parking lots in Tampa.

Loggerhead’s Beach Café, owned by Robert and Sarah Kline, submitted bids on both beaches. Robert Kline has been the president of Dogology Inc. in Bradenton, a food concession company operating from Tampa to Key West since 1999.

For P.S. Beach Associates, Ioannis Menihtas, operator of Cafe on the Beach since 2004, and Tommy Vayias, operator since 2003 as subcontractor of PS Beach Association Inc., prepared the fourth proposal.

P.S. Beach Associates

P.S. Beach Associates was the only company to offer a fixed, monthly fee to the county. It proposed an annual gross fee of $326,400, with monthly installments of $27,200 and a five-year contract for which the county would receive reliable payments despite changes in the weather and economy.

P.S. Beach Associates did not propose many additional rentals, in part because it believes rental equipment such as bikes, scooters and kayaks are potential safety risks at the beach.

The company proposed to add food service in the gift shop, such as ice cream or pizza.

Vayias said the company’s strength is its food service. “We want to keep the locals happy and we want them to come out and get a nice meal and get served quickly,” he said.

The company said one of its advantages is the return business for national and international customers.

When asked why he wants to continue working at Cafe on the Beach, Vayias picked up a rendering of Cafe on the Beach and said, “Look at it. Why wouldn’t you want to work here?’ I’ve been there for seven year. It feels kind of awkward to reapply for the job. I live on the Island. It’s my home.”

Dee Schafer, co-owner of P.S. Beach and operator of the gift shop, said she gets customers within a 100-mile radius.

Blue Wave

For Manatee Public Beach, Jansson told the committee the building has no flavor, and he would like to change that.

“It looks like the back of a warehouse,” Jansson said. “I’m trying to create a Key West look, not to where it’s a crazy tourist thing, but it needs a little flavor to it. It needs some color enhancements.”

He proposed a mural. “Maybe a little village on the wall, make it more alive,” Jansson said.

Jansson said the company is looking into eco-friendly materials for food containers

He predicted that one of the biggest sellers at both beaches would be ice cream. He also said appropriate rentals would be bicycles and volleyballs.

“You can’t make it into a circus,” Jansson said.

Jansson said he also would remove the gift shop at Manatee beach and enlarge the dining area.

When asked why he wants to run the concession, Jansson said, “I love the challenge.”

At Coquina Beach, Blue Wave sees the venue as ready to take off in popularity.

Jansson compared the size and potential revenue at Coquina Beach to his concession at Lido Beach.

“This beach is for families, and we’re really looking at focusing it on families,” he said.

Jansson proposed bringing in rentals ranging from electric scooters to deuce coupes. He said they would be ideal for the trail system, and beachgoers would be able to travel to St. Armands Circle in Sarasota and back. He also envisions the location as ideal for sandcastle building, water fitness programs, bingo and music festivals.

Jansson proposed pontoon rides and snorkeling, in addition to the bikes and scooters. “We can make it one of the vacation meccas to visit,” Jansson said.

United Parks Service

United Park Services Inc. said its additions to both beaches could include rentals of kiosks, bicycles, electric scooters, ocean kayaks, bayside kayaks and operation of a gift shop, as well as youth environmental programs.

UPS said the variety of rentals set it apart from the other companies.

“We think there will be a significant increase in sales because I think the bikes will be very popular,” said Mark Enoch of Topwater Kayak Outpost in Fort DeSoto Park. “And we’ll do a much better job with umbrellas than has been done in the past.”

At Manatee, UPS will offer fresh lemonade and shaved ice. It also plans on turning the dining room between the gift shop and the kitchen into an ice cream and coffee parlor.

Also, UPS told the committee that it wants to add a tiki bar outside the restaurant so that those wanting a beverage won’t have to stand in line.

For Coquina Beach, UPS emphasized kayak rentals and a Key West theme on the outside of the building.

“We would like the customer, when they come from the parking lot walking toward the concession, to know what we’re selling,” Kahana said. “We’ll try to market our food with signage in the front.”

Kahana also wants to stage special events such as reggae or jazz festivals. “Especially at Coquina because there’s so much room for parking, and for a big stage,” he said.

Kahana also proposed eco-lodge cabins. “They have a wooden floor with real furniture,” Kahana said. “It’s just a step beyond tent camping, but done in an elegant fashion.”

Loggerhead’s Beach Cafe

Loggerhead’s Beach Cafe is pushing for operations at both beaches, and Kline thinks that those who visit the Manatee Public Beach also will want to see similar happenings at Coquina.

Loggerhead’s emphasized the theme of the loggerhead turtle, with loggerhead T-shirts and hats for sale.

Both beaches could have tiki huts, totem poles and Salmon-colored walls.

At Coquina, Loggerhead’s proposes to install a ship that sinks into the beach like a shipwreck where children could play.

At Manatee, children would play in a small water park. Beer and wine would ideally be sold at both.

Also for both beaches, Loggerhead’s proposed a beeper system so customers can stroll around the beach waiting for their food’s preparation.

“Ultimately, we think both beaches would be a good marriage,” Kline said.

The committee seemed impressed with Loggerhead’s theme.

Kline also proposed a Hatchlings Camp where once a week students would go to the beaches for games.

“We have the vision and passion to work with the county,” Kline said. “We’re not that company that’s going to say, ‘OK, we’ve got the contract now we’re going to do what we want to do. We’re in it for families. We want people to look at the beaches and go, ‘Wow. Look what the county has done.’”

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