Bradenton Beach sinks Rotten Ralph's

jtate@bradenton.comMay 18, 2013 

BRADENTON BEACH -- The Bradenton Beach commission met Friday morning to seal the fate of Rotten Ralph's, a restaurant on the city-owned Bradenton Beach City Pier.

The commissioners voted to terminate concessionaire Dave Russell's lease agreement, which turned the property back over to the control of Bradenton Beach.

During the Friday meeting, city officials discussed the plan of action for the property. Police Chief Sam Speciale suggested that the city secure the property to ensure safety.

"I'd feel comfortable if someone came in and changed the locks," said Speciale.

Mayor John Shaughnessy will be on hand Monday for the walk-through of the facility for the city's inspection and get keys from Russell. However, Russell's termination is effective May 18.

Russell worked tirelessly Friday afternoon with two Rotten Ralph's employees to remove equipment and items from the location he managed for more than five years. He has until Saturday morning to remove his belongings.

He had mixed feelings about the move. "I couldn't help but get stressed out about things. I hope to have better success, minus the politics, at the next place," said Russell, who wished he didn't have to leave under these circumstances.

On the restaurant's Facebook page, customer Deb Whymark wrote, "I hear that you are closing. I'm devastated."

Rotten Ralph's replied to the post saying, "We will

rise again."

He plans to open another restaurant, which may go by the name Ralph's, in two weeks in the El Conquistador Village Plaza.

"The overhead is far less and that area is building up," he said. "It's an incredible opportunity."

Russell said he would not sue the city for not repairing the dock at the end of the pier. It's been closed to boaters due to damage from Tropical Storm Debby and stopped Russell getting more boating customers. He's leaving with no bad blood.

"We worked out an agreement," said Russell. "I hope there are no hard feelings."

The agreement is that Russell must pay the city $15,000 and ensure that all his utility bills are paid in full. City Clerk Nora Idso said that at this time the city had not received confirmation that all utility bills had been paid.

Commissioner Richard Gatehouse said the city will look for another concessionaire.

Janey Tate, City of Bradenton and Palmetto reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041.

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