Manatee commission awards beach contract to Tampa company (with photo gallery)

BRADENTON — With the Manatee County Commission’s approval of a new contract with United Park Services for the concession at Manatee Beach, Mark Kahana said he was excited about taking over the operations.

“I’m sure we’ll do a great job and earn the respect of the community,” said Kahana, president of United Park Services, after commissioners voted 4-3 to award the contract for the restaurant and retail shop to the Tampa company.

“I appreciate the vote of confidence by the commissioners,” he said.

Based on the comments from most of the 31 people who spoke before the vote, Kahana and his partners, Mark and Debra Enoch, will need to gain the confidence of their new customers.

The speakers were passionate about their satisfaction with the current operators of the Cafe on the Beach, Tommy Vayias and John Menihtas, who sub-lease the facility from contract holders Dee and Gene Schaefer.

“It’s in the best interest of the county not to change what’s not broken,” said Stavros Tingirides, attorney for Vayias and Menihtas.

Commissioners Gwen Brown, Larry Bustle, Ron Getman and Donna Hayes voted to award the contract to United Park Services.

Commissioners John Chappie, Joe McClash and Carol Whitmore voted against.

The new agreement calls for United Park Services, which also has the contract for the Fort DeSoto County Park concession in Pinellas County, to pay Manatee County $342,000 a year during the five-year contract.

For more on this story, pick up a copy of Wednesday's Bradenton Herald or visit Bradenton.com