Paradise Grille Concession Vote
It was an emotional night at the St. Pete Beach Commission Tuesday, February 13 as the future of the two Paradise Grille concession stands located at 900 Gulf Way and 6850 Beach Plaza on St. Pete Beach hung in the balance of a commission vote. In the end, the commission voted 5-0 not to extend the lease that terminates May 31. The two stands have been run by Rita and Michael Janecek, of Paradise Suites, LLC for 10 years.
Many patrons showed up to speak and support the Janeceks. “Why ruin a good thing?” said St. Pete Beach resident Jay Lutz.
“I don’t feel the city should open a bid and look for someone else because I feel that we are the best people,” said Mike Janecek to applause from the crowd. Janecek also talked about how much work he put into rebuilding the stands. “I put my heart and soul into it.”
“For 12 years I eat, sleep, and breathe Pass-a-Grille,” said Adam Janecek who helps manage the concession stands.
The St. Pete Beach commission discussed their reasons for not extending the lease.
“We should not renegotiate an existing contract without opening it up for bid,” said City Manager Wayne Saunders, saying the commission needed to do due diligence in deciding the future of beach concessions.
“They would not have gotten the chance to bid 10 years ago if we hadn’t opened it up and bids will come up in the future also,” said Vice Mayor Ward Friszolowski. “It’s something we owe to our constituents.”
Mayor Al Johnson added that not renewing the contract was not related to anything negative about the current Paradise Grilles.
“I received over 250 positive emails [about the concession stand],” said Johnson. “In the future we will need a simpler contract for all parties with no incentives built-in.”
The Janecek family is not out of the running for another lease but will need to rebid and compete for the contract again as they did 10 years ago.
Commission Discusses Merry Pier Lease Agreement
Commission voted 5-0 at the February 13 meeting to waive the annual increase in lease amount for Merry Pier for 2018. This break was requested because of widescale construction that will be occurring on 801 Pass-a-Grille Way and how it could hurt their business.
“This is a reasonable request because the road will be completely destroyed for a better part of this year,” said Commissioner Melinda Pletcher.
Commissioner Rick Falkenstein agreed: “They won’t have any parking there during the road construction.”
“Waiving of the 2.5% lease increase will save them $1008 a month,” said Saunders.
Mastry’s Approved for Food Trucks at Brewery
Mastry’s Brewing Company was approved February 13 for conditional use of food trucks on the premises of the Brewery at 7701 Blind Pass Road. After a long discussion between the commission and Mastry’s CEO Matt Dahm, conditional use was approved rather than the brewery having to continually apply for a special-events permit in order to have food trucks on premise. The commission voted 5-0 to allow food trucks there a maximum of three days a week regardless of special events. Dahm had to prove that there was enough parking within 800 feet of the brewery to make up for the three spots that the trucks will occupy when they are present.
SPB Expects to ticket more drivers in Pass-a-Grille
At the meeting on February 27, commission discussed the increase in traffic law violations because of the road repairs and current in-season traffic around Pass-a-Grille. According to officials, many drivers are stopping traffic and waiting for people to back out of parking spots and causing congestion; some people are even moving barriers and parking in construction areas. “There will be more signage and police enforcement to prevent these things and to try to cut down on the congestion,” said Saunders. “We have talked to the Sheriff’s department and police have already given out 140 tickets recently.”
“Dynamic Message Signs” on SPB Discussed
The commission discussed the aesthetics of the four large 12-by-5-foot dynamic message signs (DMS) that the county has placed around St. Pete Beach that display informational messages about traffic or special events.
“Staff feels that it is an eyesore just south of the Don,” said Saunders.
“It’s clutter,” said Falkenstein.
Saunders added that Pinellas County has stated that if a lot of communities feel they are a nuisance, and that it is possible that they can be removed. Commission will talk with other cities that have DMS and look into having all or some of them removed.
Seafood and Music Festival Victim of Own Success
Commission discussed briefly the success of the first St. Pete Beach Seafood and Music Festival held February 2 and 3 on Corey Avenue, but also how the large crowds created parking and facilities nightmares. Commission discussed the need for more parking and portable bathrooms in the future. Some possibilities included hiring out a contractor to handle parking and facilities, and shuttles for the many vendors so there is more parking near the event. Also proposed was the idea of letting local businesses such as churches or banks charge for special event parking to hopefully create more spots.
100 Hurricane Re-entry Passes Distributed
Falkenstein took his time at the end of the meeting to commend St. Pete Beach employee Tamara Harvey for making and issuing 100 hurricane re-entry passes to the residents of the community.
“Now is the time to do it when you are not stressed and wondering where to go when a hurricane is coming,” said Falkenstein.
Once a mandatory evacuation order has been lifted on St. Pete Beach, emergency access permits are required to immediately re-enter an evacuated area. More information about access passes can be found at stpetebeach.org.