Manatee commissioners to consider new beach concession contract

HOLMES BEACH — Manatee County commissioners will vote Tuesday on a new contract for the restaurant and beach shop concession at Manatee County Beach.

There may be a roomful of loyal customers of the present contract holders telling them to leave well-enough alone.

Judy and Buddy Wyatt were at the Cafe on the Beach with friends D.J. McGowan and Janet Thomas to enjoy the live music and Italian buffet early Monday evening.

“We would like it to stay the same,” said Judy Wyatt. “We love this place the way it is.”

That was the feelings of her husband and companions.

They said they did not understand why the county wanted to change concessionaires.

County Administrator Ed Hunzeker will recommend Tuesday commissioners approve a 5-year contract with United Parks Services.A selection committee of county staff reviewed four proposals submitted to operate the popular beach concession.

After reading the proposals and interviewing the owners of the companies, United Parks Service was picked as the one to begin negotiating with to reach agreement on a contract.

The Tampa-based company currently operates the concession at Fort Desoto County Park in Pinellas County.

The present operators of the Cafe on the Beach, Tommy Vayias and John Menihtas, who have a sub-contract with the contract holder, P.S. Beach & Associates, were the committee’s second choice.

The commission will begin deliberations on the new contract at 10:30 a.m. in the Commission Chambers of the County Administration Building, 1112 Manatee Ave. W.

The contract calls for United Parks Service to pay the county $342,000 a year, and complete a renovation of the facilities in the first year, including installing an ice cream and coffee shop, front entrance improvements, landscaping, and a beverage station, all valued at about $108,000.

All of the proposed changes made no difference the Wyatts, McGowan or Thomas.

Buddy Wyatt said he understands the county wanting to get the best deal, but unless the difference in money is big, they should keep the present operators.

“If it’s a few thousand, then no, don’t change,” he said. “If it’s going to be big money, maybe.”

Vayias and Menihtas, under their company of Cafe on the Beach Inc., proposed to give the county $326,400 a year, as well as do about $100,000 in renovations to the facility in the first year.

“I just don’t see the need for them to change,” McGowan said. “We like it the way it is.”

“The first place my (out-of-town) visitors say they want to go is the Cafe on the Beach,” Thomas said.