As the city begins work on renovating the pavilion property, it is also negotiating with a new concession operator to oversee food and drink services.
Sunday, Sept. 29 was, for some Lido Key beachgoers, the end of an era: the final day the signature lobster roll was served at the Lido Beach Restaurant.
The next day, the concession stand was shuttered, so the city could begin a series of planned renovations to the Lido Pavilion. Although the closure is temporary — the concession is expected to reopen in December — the departure of restaurant operator Seabreeze Concessions is not.
A city committee selected ALA Restaurant Inc., the operator of Bevardi’s Salute Restaurant on Lemon Avenue, as its recommended vendor for operating the concession. City staff will negotiate a contract with the company to bring to the City Commission for final approval.
Before making a selection, the city rejected Seabreeze’s application for being incomplete, a spokesman confirmed.
The City Commission had previously approved a lease agreement with a private group selected to renovate and run the pavilion property, but the board agreed to terminate the deal in February. The city is now working on internally undertaking more modest renovations.
Parks and Recreation Director Jerry Fogle said the scope of work includes restroom improvements, new furniture and the construction of a shaded patio. Fogle also said he hoped the work could be complete over the course of the next year.
The work on the concession area includes the installation of a new vent hood and an aluminum roof. The city intends to fund the Lido renovation effort with $1.25 million in sales tax funds that were previously allocated for pavilion improvements.
Carl Shoffstall, the president of the Lido Key Residents Association, said people living on the barrier island were upset to learn Seabreeze would not continue running the concession stand. Sarasota County selected Seabreeze to operate the Lido Beach Restaurant in 2008, and when the city assumed control of the Lido Pavilion in 2011, officials authorized a new contract with the vendor.
After a pair of extensions, Seabreeze’s contract expired Sept. 30 of this year.
Despite some displeasure about the future of the restaurant, Lido residents had previously urged the city to move forward with plans to refurbish the pavilion property and singled out the restrooms as a particular point of concern. Shoffstall said he was hopeful the improvement project would move forward swiftly. He said Lido Key residents would be monitoring the work as it progresses.
“We’ll see what happens over the next couple of months,” Shoffstall said.
While the concession is closed, the city said a food truck will be stationed at the pavilion most days of the week offering food and beverage service. Fogle said the city would be working to provide on-site and online updates about the renovations at the pavilion.
“We have signage at Lido,” Fogle said. “We’ll have things posted on our website and social media sites to continue to keep everybody posted on the project.”