The city is resuming operation of food and beverage service at Devil's Thumb Golf Club. City manager Justin Clifton says the move will "preserve the mission of the golf course, to serve golfers first and foremost."
Since spring 2011, food and beverages have been provided by Applegate Ventures LLC, operated by Josh and Jeni Applegate. At that time, council members agreed leasing the snack bar to a private enterprise would allow golf course manager Rob Sanders to focus his efforts on course operations. In August, the city provided Applegate Ventures with 60 days' notice, as required by the lease, and announced it will take over operations Oct. 12.
"The Applegates did a good job, but, understandably, they relied on special events to be profitable," Clifton said. Not all those events were compatible with the golf experience. The Applegates hosted poker tournaments, weddings, meetings and other special events. When a wedding was taking place at the facility, or a speaker was addressing a gathering, there was no place for golfers to enjoy a beer, or even to rehash their game. Sometimes they were asked to be quiet.
"That's the challenge with a private-public partnership," Clifton said. "Our mission is not always compatible."
The Applegates paid the city $550 a month for the space; in return, the city paid utilities and other expenses.
"The impact to the bottom line (of the golf course) was pretty small," Clifton said. "We believe we have the potential to do that well or better."
More importantly, the city will have "a few more tools in the toolbox," Clifton said. He is committed to reducing the transfers that keep the golf course operational, and one solution may be closing the golf course during slow days of the week or during slow times of the year. That would not have been possible under the lease agreement, which specifies hours and days of operation. It also wouldn't be fair to the Applegates, Clifton said, to ask them to endure changes while the city tries to find the right balance.
Moving forward, Clifton plans to draw on resources within the parks and recreation departments to avoid overloading Sanders. He also understands the food and beverage industry, having been in restaurant management prior to public administration. "This isn't just on Rob," he said. "Everyone has an interest in making this work."
"It's unfortunate the situation didn't work out," Josh Applegate said. "We're thankful for the support we've had, and thank those who allowed us to be part of their private events."blog comments powered by Disqus