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Largo seeks new operator for library's Bookmark Cafe

Dalal Mansour, who runs the Bookmark Cafe in the Largo Public Library, plans to resume her former career as a dental hygienist.

SCOTT KEELER | Times (2009)

Dalal Mansour, who runs the Bookmark Cafe in the Largo Public Library, plans to resume her former career as a dental hygienist.

City officials are looking for a new operator to take over the cafe in the Largo Public Library but may need to close the coffee and sandwich shop until a new one is found after the current contractor leaves next month.

The city announced Tuesday that it is seeking proposals from potential operators, three months after denying Dalal Mansour, the current operator, a contract extension after she was three weeks late in notifying the city of her desire to stay.

Proposals to operate the Bookmark Cafe must be submitted by July 13. The city would require operators to remain open seven days per week.

Mansour was invited to submit a bid and continue operating on a month-to-month basis after her contract ends June 23.

In a letter to the city earlier this month, Mansour declined to submit a bid, but agreed to continue providing service if the city waived its rent.

"I would be pleased to do the city of Largo a favor as proposed to keep the Bookmark Cafe open after June 23 on a month-to-month basis while the city conducts the request for proposal and selects a new operator for the library as far as the city understands that I am not interested in paying the rent of $1,000 after June 23," Mansour wrote.

City officials said Tuesday that they are open to the idea.

But with Mansour leaving and a new operator not likely to step in until after July 13, the cafe could be shut down in the interim.

Mansour has made plans to resume her former career as a dental hygienist and hopes to open a restaurant franchise in St. Petersburg.

The Greater Largo Library Foundation, a nonprofit booster group for the library, expressed interest in running the cafe in the past, but officials said the group is no longer interested.

"About three years ago, we took a look at it in seeing if it would be viable," said foundation president Eric Gerard. "It's just not something we want to get involved in now."

The library has 85,000 registered users and sees about 675,000 visitors each year.

Dominick Tao can be reached at dtao@sptimes.com or (727) 580-2951.

Largo seeks new operator for library's Bookmark Cafe 05/25/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 8:21pm]
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