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Date of Issue: May 12, 2010

UPS ups ante, Cafe on the Beach defends bid

Bicycles, scooters and kayaks will not be part of the United Parks Services plan for Manatee Public Beach, according to UPS’s Mark Enoch.

A committee of three county employees recommended UPS to operate the concessions at Coquina and Manatee beaches, and the negotiated contract will be a topic for the Manatee County Board of Commissioners beginning at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 11, on the first floor of the County Administration Center in downtown Bradenton.

United Parks Service of St. Petersburg is presently the concessionaire at Fort DeSoto State Park in St. Petersburg.

Cafe on the Beach and P.S. Beach Associates are the current concessionaires, having begun Cafe on the Beach in 1992, and having grown the Manatee Beach facility into a $2.5 million annual business. Their contract expires July 21.

UPS originally submitted a proposal to the county that included ocean kayak, scooter and bicycle rentals in Holmes Beach.

But Holmes Beach commissioners and Police Chief Jay Romine had safety issues with the rentals.

“I am kind of surprised that the city and county was not more in tune with each other about rentals (before) the whole RFP went out,” Enoch said.

Enoch said he thinks not enough people were aware of changes planned by Cafe on the Beach.

“The subcontractor only plans on being there for five years, and then they planned on changing half of the dining room into a pizza, sub and gyro shop,” Enoch said. “All we’re doing is making half the dining room an ice cream parlor.”

“It was in the proposal that way,” Tommy Vayias of Cafe on the Beach said. “We wanted to keep our options open basically. We also wanted to feel out what the island was becoming. If we needed to change to increase food service we would.” The cafe operators also were originally hoping to exercise five-year renewal option on their contract.

UPS also raised its compensation plan to the county by about $20,000 annually.

UPS has negotiated a $342,000 base compensation with a profit-sharing bonus of 4 percent over $2.5 million ($18,520 the first year).

Cafe on the Beach offered $326,000 annual with no profit sharing.

UPS has planned two phases of capital improvements.

The first, estimated at $108,000, includes gift shop renovations to become an ice cream and coffee shop, outdoor seating, exterior paint, signage, front entrance improvements, landscaping, new awnings, a beverage station and new outdoor furniture.

The second phase to be completed within the second year and estimated at $50,000, would include renovation of the pancake station, rest room rehabilitation, more landscaping and improvements of the patio and pavers.

Cafe on the Beach offered improvements totaling an estimated $100,000 to include new outdoor furniture, signage, new awnings, paint, decorations, eco-friendly lighting, a custom bench, pancake house renovation, expanded patio with pavers and flower pots and plants.

UPS said it would maintain the popular all-you-can-eat-pancake specials. Its contract protects against price increases and for the first time the restaurant would accept credit card payments.

“The board will consider a thoughtful proposal that takes into consideration community concerns and a greater monetary and capital return on our facility,” county administrator Ed Hunzeker said. “This (UPS) proposal will provide Manatee County the best return for operating a business on the taxpayers’ property.”