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Ideas needed for golf course eatery

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The Town of Cedaredge will be issuing a request for proposals for management of the golf course restaurant following action of the town board at its regular meeting on Dec. 10.

Any responses to the town's RFP are to be reviewed by trustees at their next official meeting -- a work session on Jan 14.

Town administrator Katie Sickles told the trustees that current restaurant manager Doug Coburn, who wants to terminate his current management lease, has also submitted a proposal for a new lease deal. She said that the new offer specifies a May 1 restaurant opening, but did not specify other details. Coburn was not present for the trustee's Dec. 10 discussion.

A motion by trustee Ray Hanson to accept Coburn's termination notice effective at year's end and also to table consideration of any new management proposals created a topic of discussion for the board. Sickles advised them not to table the issue of new proposals.

Trustee Nancy Sturgill asked, "Then, what is the plan" for finding new management?

Trustee Al Smith said he was "not sold on going the competitive bid route" for finding new management.

Hanson amended his motion to include only acceptance of Coburn's lease termination, and that passed unanimously.

Trustees then moved on to discussion of a restaurant "action plan," one in a series of attempts to deal with the golf course restaurant business operation over the past decade.

When Coburn took management of the restaurant two years ago, he recognized that business from golfers and the local neighborhood alone were not enough to sustain the enterprise. While a full service restaurant is desired at that location by golfers and neighborhood residents, that market has not generated sufficient business to support one. Coburn proposed two years ago a program of promotions to attract business from other areas of the county.

The town has been focused on having an independent business manager and operator for the restaurant. In 2005, the town hired a golf course management consultant from the Front Range to offer advice. That resulted in a recommendation that the town itself run the restaurant with management provided directly by the board of trustees. But the idea, which would turn the restaurant into a full-fledged town business enterprise with access to public resources and in direct competition with other local restaurants, has never been pursued.

"We need a proposal from someone to manage the golf course restaurant," said Mayor Pat Means. She noted that the business model for the restaurant has been the same "for umpteen years and hasn't worked." Trustee Al Smith made reference to a familiar observation attributed to Albert Einstein and others: how doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results is a definition of insanity.

Trustee discussion of the topic focused on an idea of an operation similar to how "The Divot" sandwich-and-donut shop was set up when the golf course first began operations. Instead of a full-service, upscale restaurant located far from any other commercial or retail business areas, a simple operation offering sandwiches, wraps, and hot dogs for golfers making the turn, or wanting an after-round beer or two might be the right business model. Such an operation would have difficulty making the town's required lease payments which go into the golf course fund. Making operational business concessions to a scaled down lunch stand operation could be seen as a government subsidy.

Sickles said, "We need a competitive bid process," for the restaurant's management. She noted that the restaurant and equipment are public property, though Coburn owns the current inventory of food and liquor. She suggested publishing the same RFP that has been issued previously, and comments made during the discussion indicated there may be someone already interested in the business.

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Cedaredge, Golf Course
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