ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. — Many visits to Pass-a-Grille beach come with a stop at the longtime concession stand Paradise Grille.
Located on the water, the beach bar and restaurant offers all outdoor seating with a wide menu, including alcoholic beverages.
But the family who has run the Pass-a-Grille stand for the past 10 years, along with a second location on Uppum Beach, posted on their Facebook page that due to a change in their lease agreement with the city, they would no longer be running the beach bars.
“We love our customers and thank you for all your support,” the post reads. “Please continue to visit Paradise Grille at Pass-A-Grille and Upham beach because as of June 1st it will be a different ballgame.”
Longtime customers sounded off on Facebook with near 550 comments and over 1000 reactions. Many questioned the city’s motives in making the change and questioned if the new owners would be local.
Longtime customers were just learning the news Monday afternoon.
“I’m sad and disappointed,” said longtime visitor Mary James. “I hope it doesn’t happen because it’s what makes this area special.”
The City of St. Pete Beach owns the property and began leasing the concession space stand to Paradise Grille 10 years ago.
Mayor Alan Johnson tells 10 News the city began exploring a change due to the complicated nature of the city’s lease agreement with Paradise Grille.
As part of the restructuring of the contract, the city was required to put the opportunity out for a bid and ended up accepting five offers for consideration.
Johnson said Paradise Grille was in the top three, but was beat out by Tampa-based United Park Services, a company that specializes in running public concession stands including the ones at Fort DeSoto and Madeira Beach City Park.
“I didn’t care for [the news] at first until I heard that someone might want to take it over,” said regular visitor Bob White. “I don’t want it to disappear because this is nice here sitting right here on the beach.”
The change, which includes a second Paradise Grille location on Upham Beach, will take place at the end of May.
Johnson said the new owners will run a mobile food service on the beach while the Pass-a-Grille location is renovated by the city to make room for larger restrooms.
The mayor says the change will come with an expanded menu and healthier options but should remain similar to what Pass-a-Grille visitors have come to love and enjoy.
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