ST. PETERSBURG — As the city pushes toward a fall 2019 opening of the Pier District, contracts for various components are steadily being approved.
The latest is a lease with Chuck Prather, owner of the Birchwood, a boutique hotel on Beach Drive NE, to operate a restaurant, rooftop tiki bar and first floor café at the pier head building.
Thursday the City Council unanimously approved a 10-year agreement with Prather’s newest company, Teak, LLC, for the proposal.
Prather is offering "exactly the type of concept" the city had hoped for, council member Darden Rice said.
Prather’s company will pay an annual base rent of $162,000, plus taxes. In addition, it will pay a percentage monthly rent based on cumulative gross sales. The company will also pay common area maintenance charges.
The city will offer a first-year discount of $70,000 on the rent and contribute $500,000 for interior improvements.
During Thursday’s council meeting, Alan DeLisle, the city’s development administrator, mentioned the challenges of operating restaurants at the far end of the pier. Unlike the last pier, visitors will not be able drive out to the location, but will instead have to walk or take a tram.
"We always knew that there was a little bit more risk on this project and our terms were not going to be as strong on this project," DeLisle said.
But, he added, "We believe that the proposal in front of you is very strong and is market-driven."
Chris Ballestra, the city’s managing director of development coordination, called Prather "a known quantity," and said the city was "thrilled to have a local operator."
Prather, who also operates the Canopy Rooftop Lounge and Birch & Vine restaurant at his hotel, told the Tampa Bay Times he is pleased to have been selected for the Pier project.
"The leaders of St. Petersburg and the citizens of St. Petersburg have studied, discussed and analyzed the Pier to such great lengths that the project that will be constructed will be special, and we’re simply grateful to be part of it," he said.
"And we are very grateful that they have entrusted the new project to be incorporated with our vision."
His 6,920-square-foot restaurant will be called Teak. The rooftop bar will be known as Pier Teaki, and the ground floor will house the Driftwood Café.
Prather said he envisions serving items such as cold pressed juices, cold brewed coffee, healthy omelets and bowls of fruit and yogurt at the Driftwood to cater to early morning walkers, bikers and runners along the pier. Picnic offerings, frozen custards and gelato would be on the menu later in the day.
The Teak restaurant, on the third floor, will feature a Florida-themed menu focused on St. Petersburg and the Tampa Bay area.
"We hope to find and develop delicious fish spreads and source local fresh seafood," said Prather, who told the city council that he expects entrée prices to run from about $17 to $28. He hopes his new restaurant will be able to host weddings.
The Teaki bar will offer "the next generation" of tiki drinks, Prather promised.
Answering a question from City Council member Charlie Gerdes, Prather said he plans to offer about 110 full-time and part-time jobs.
The $76 million, 26-acre Pier District will also include Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille, which also has locations on Sanibel Island, Captiva Island and Fort Myers Beach. St. Petersburg’s Doc Ford’s will be on the waterfront in the Pelican pier parking lot.
Thursday, City Council members also approved a not-to-exceed $180,135.22 agreement with Kimley-Horn & Associates for design and engineering services for the Pier District’s gateway, which will include a roundabout. The area at Second Avenue NE, from Beach Drive to Bayshore Boulevard, is part of a projected $2 million project.
The council also recently approved leases with Tampa Bay Watch to operate marine education programs at the pier and Duke Energy Florida to build a solar photovoltaic car canopy in the Pelican lot. The council also accepted a $250,000 donation from the American Academy of Dermatology for a shade structure adjacent to Spa Beach.
Contact Waveney Ann Moore at [email protected] or (727) 892-2283. Follow @wmooretimes.