Five Bids in for Scotty's Landing Replacement: More Burgers, Less Charm
A few days ago, five bids were presented to a special selection committee to weigh the merits of the proposals that answered the city's RFP# 11-12024 (Indoor/Outdoor Restaurant) and RFP# 11-12-025 (Marina/Outdoor Casual Restaurant). Both RFP's concerned the city-owned properties located at 51 Chart House Dr. and 3385 Pan American Dr.
According to the Miami Herald, city officials "ushered reporters and the public out of the meeting room before the pitches began. Moreover, Judy Marsie-Hazen, an employee of the public facilities department, snatched from a Herald reporter's hands bid documents that had mistakenly been distributed at the beginning of the meeting."
I called City Manager Johnny Martinez twice today, and apparently Mr. Martinez has neither an assistant nor voicemail. His phone kept on ringing and ringing. A message left for Ron Nelson, chief of staff at Commissioner Marc Sarnoff's office, has yet to be returned either. I did, however, receive a list of the bidders -- all of which offer more or less similar concepts for beautiful cafés and upscale waterfront bistros.
Most bidders are LLCs set up for the sole purpose of bidding on the RFPs, and proposals include plans for a marina, a tiki hut that serves ceviche, a sidewalk café in an airplane hangar named Fleat Street, and an outdoor eatery called Clipper's that serves burgers and fish to replace Scotty's Landing (which serves burgers and fish). Landry, the owner of Chart House, proposed a seafood restaurant with yacht-club style to replace the current seafood restaurant with yacht-club style.
It seems like only Scott Wessel, the owner of Grove Key Marina and Scotty's Landing, sees value in improving the waterfront without changing it into another unneeded "gorgeous" eyesore. His bid for an upgraded eatery and renovated marina can possibly make locals, who see Scotty's Landing as a Coconut Grove icon, happy instead of frustrated.
As it stands now, they're looking to replace Scotty's Landing, a beloved waterfront burger joint that makes dogs and people happy, with a newer burger joint. And they're looking to replace Chart House, a pretty if somewhat soulless place to spend anniversaries and Mother's Day, with another lovely yet generic restaurant. Doesn't sound like a winning plan.
I'm not surprised this is happening. But I am saddened. How many times have I met friends at Scotty's Landing for some fish dip and a beer? Why is the place so lovable? It could be the killer view of the marina, the cold brew served in mugs, the friendly conversation by tourists and locals alike, the bands playing under a giant tree, or the joint's character. It's comfortable. Yes, it's a little shabby. But who wants to put on heels or slacks just to grab a beer?
I love Scotty's Landing, and I'll try to be there tomorrow at the public meeting to hear the special committee give its recommendations to City Manager Johnny Martinez. It'll take place at the MDC City Managers Office (444 SW Second Ave.) in the first floor cafeteria. The meeting begins at 1:30 p.m. I encourage everyone concerned to attend. Then, because tomorrow is Friday, let's all meet for a beer at Scotty's Landing.
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