Commission Sheds Light On Future Of Coral Gables Country Club And Burger Bob’s

Ariel Fernandez

Founder & Editor
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At the January 25th Coral Gables City Commission meeting, the Commission discussed the future of the Coral Gables Country Club and the location of Burger Bob’s.

Both locations had Request for Proposals (RFPs) done for them at the end of December and both yielded one familiar suitor, Barreto Investments. Following Gables Insider‘s article about the City Manager withholding public records about the RFP and proposal from residents, Barreto Group withdrew both bids leaving the City without a suitor for the Country Club and two potential suitors for Burger Bob’s.

The question on the minds of many was, what would happen to these two iconic locations in the heart of historic Coral Gables?

Coral Gables Country Club

Coral Gables Country Club

The Coral Gables Country Club was on the Commission’s agenda, as the City Manager had been seeking the Commission’s blessing to negotiate a contract with Barreto Investments for the management of the Country Club. However, with Barreto Investments withdrawal, there was no such blessing to be given.

Instead, the Commission took the opportunity to publicly discuss the future of the Club in the Sunshine.

The City Manager stated that the proposal from Barreto Investments was an interesting proposal. He said the backup plan has always been for Community Recreation to take the facility over. The proposal, which was withheld from residents, according to the Manager would have brought $4.5 million in improvements to the facility. The Mayor assured residents that there will not be a restaurant or a parking garage in that location. He said he wants a family atmosphere. Events that are currently scheduled will be honored. “There will be a smooth transition.” The gym will not be closed, nor will Liberty Caffé. He also also asked that there be public comment in the process. The idea is to return to a country club concept.

Commissioner Rhonda Anderson stated that she wanted to ensure that the Country Club was open to everyone, not just those who could afford it. A concern residents had with the original proposal from Barreto Investments which would have made the Country Club unaffordable for most.

Liberty Caffé

Commissioner Kirk R. Menendez asked that the Community Recreation Department ensure that financing for necessary repairs be included in the request for the potential parks referendum.

Community Recreation Department Director Fred Couceyro expressed that he has full faith in his team’s ability to run this operation. His plan is to have Assistant Director Carolina Vester manage the operation.

The Commission voted to instruct the City Manager to formulate a plan to have the Community Recreation Department takeover the management of the Coral Gables Country Club after the current lease ends.

Burger Bob’s

Granada Golf Course Pro Shop

As Gables Insider had reported, Burger Bob’s closed its doors on January 16th, two-and-a-half months before the scheduled end of its negotiated contract extension.

At the moment, the City is working on plans to renovate the golf pro-shop for the Granada Golf Course. They will be placing impact glass windows and have decided to replace the grease traps for Bob’s.

The Mayor wants to see the space open and not closed for two years. Something similar to the Surf Side Diner in Palm Beach. He expressed his interest in the City running it as well.

Commissioner Menendez expressed his interest in this establishment keeping a hometown feel with quality food and quality service.

Vice Mayor Mena asked for the Manager to address the proposals received and how they are deficient from the market value. The Manager stated that it would cost the City $400,000 to $600,000 to make the necessary updates to the space. Asset Manager Zeida Sardinas explained that there have been three RFPs for this space thus far. The last one closed on January 10th. She stated that they still have not fully reviewed the proposals, but the two remaining ones are preliminarily not considered satisfactory.

The Mayor would like for the City to consider hiring an operator for that space. Someone who has the experience and has been there for over 20 years and the City maintains control. Without naming names, the Mayor was obviously referring to Rita Tennyson, longtime Burger Bob’s employee who had submitted a bid with the support and financial commitment of many members of the community.

Burger Bob’s and the Granada Golf Pro Shop

The Vice Mayor made it clear that the Country Club and Burger Bob’s are two different situations, pointing out that the Country Club tenant signed an agreement to end their lease while employing legal counsel. He does not want to change the Country Club or change what is there, but he will not agree to working with the current tenant.

Commissioner Fors expressed that he would like to hear more about the Mayor’s concept, and that it would be ideal that the person who runs the operation continues to call it Burger Bob’s. With regards to tenant build-outs, there may be a requirement for some upfront funds to offset some of the costs.

The Commission voted to continue and finalize the RFP and for staff to bring back their recommendation to the Commission, while at the same time formulate a plan and present the Commission with an option where the City does the necessary build out and finds someone who would lease the space. This will come back at the first Commission meeting in March.

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30 thoughts on “Commission Sheds Light On Future Of Coral Gables Country Club And Burger Bob’s

  1. Traffic. ONE WAY traffic for north and south greenway with a dedicated lane to walkers/runners/cyclists. With roundabouts. Makes perfect sense.

    Save the Golf Course.

    “Growth” ?? We have growth, in those ginormous monstrosity building on Ponce and Dixie.

  2. I see Burger Bob’s had a booth at the Coral Gables Farmers Market this morning.
    (this is the same place where the Beloved City can’t spell DINING right, preferring to call it a DINNING AREA on their signs)

  3. Re Ian’s pearl of wisdom…the answer is to suggest that Ian move out of Coral Gables to join a community interested in being a paradise for builders not for its citizens. Obviously, Ian is a fish out of water. Really?

  4. I know this will rub lots the wrong way, but thought needs to be put into removing the Granada golf course, and develop with mixed use. Miami is growing, and “historic value” is mostly bullshit. These home values are horrible and are pricing out everyone but the wealthy.

    We need to build. And NOT more single family homes

  5. Is everyone on this thread who say they love the managers of the Biltmore, want them to take over CGCC and say they (the Biltmore managers) love and respect City residents still holding to that position now that Gables Insider published an article on how the managers of the Biltmore have illegally started charging us for parking there?

  6. Since the City commissioners delight and spend a lot of time giving and receiving awards, the
    award for the mis-manager of the city is interesting. What does the award look like?

  7. The resident’s clear choice to award the operation of Burger Bob’s goes to Rita Tennison.

    But, based on his past record (the Mobility Hub, the Wawa, the upzoning on Biltmore Way, etc) in over-riding the majority of the residents, Peter Iglesias, the City Manager, with his incompetent staff, will make sure Rita’s path to receive her “clear choice award” doesn’t go smoothly.

    That brings up another award. Again, based on his past record, Peter Iglesias is my “clear choice” to get the award for MIS-MANAGER OF THE MONTH.

    Are there any other nominations?

    If not, Peter Iglesias gets the award, hands down. It will be presented to him in the Comedy Room at City Hall. All are invited to attend, in person or by zoom.

  8. The company that manages The Biltmore is thoughtful talented and truly respects the Coral Gables community.

    It is to be expected that they could find it necessary to adopt temporary adjustments given the impact of the pandemic on the hospitality industry.

    However those adjustments by no means reflect their excellence over these thirty years as celebrated in the following article published in January 2020 shortly before the pandemic was declared.

    https://coralgablesthemagazine.com/the-passion-of-prescott

    It has been a pleasure for years to order a Reuben sandwich and French onion soup on the terrace at the 19th Hole and meet an out of town friend for a glass of wine with the warm ambiance at the Biltmore Bar or the Cellar Club Bar or al fresco at the Cascade Bar (though the latter would benefit greatly if they brought back the boules court on the nearby grass…).

    In addition the company indeed manages a country club style membership program within The Biltmore such that one could imagine Coral Gables Country Club integrating with their business model.

    http://www.biltmorehotel.com/membership

  9. Get a grip
    Have you been to the Biltmore lately. Ate at Fontana recently, food and service was terrible. New chef. Waiters kept apologizing
    Now we pay for parking, not with the usual on line services but with some company that had people standing in front of the signs to try to figure out how to pay. Who is making these bad decisions

  10. While we happen to be on the topic of Granada Golf Course and neighborhood it seems worthwhile to consider intersection traffic management.

    There is a glaring need for roundabouts at all the following intersections and the City should tend to this matter as soon as possible.

    • Granada Boulevard and North Greenway (the corner with the Coral Gables Country Club)

    • Granada Boulevard and South Greenway (the corner with Neighborhood Tennis)

    • South Greenway and Coral Way (the corner where pedestrians joust with vehicles approaching in four directions at raceway speeds)

    There already are roundabouts at other intersections around the golf course (Segovia and Coral Way, North Greenway and South Greenway) and these graced corners are infinitely easier to navigate for those trying to walk for their daily exercise.

  11. Peter Iglesias, the City Manager, should have had the answer himself to the Country Club problem.

    He should have known immediately to retain a management company with a strong, proven track record.

    Instead, several residents had to give him the answer.

    Based his track record, he either will loose the answer or wont get it done right.

    Would some explain why we need Peter Iglesias?

  12. Some claim that City can not run a Country Club, yet they claim City should be run by Commissioners. Really?
    You want politicians, mostly lawyers with no real management experience, running the City?
    Manager Iglesias is not being helped by his staff developing RFP’s that only one company responds to. Why?
    There are many restaurant companies in Miami as well as a number of national companies that manage Club operations.
    If it has not changed, City Club downtown is run by a management company. Nationally, some hotel companies include a Club within their hospitality operations. If owners of hotel properties can hire management companies to run their hotels, City can do the same! Hyatt Regency is owned by USAA, & is run by a management company.

  13. The 5 commissioners are supposed to be the top authority for the City. They are supposed to be watch-dogs over the City Manager, Peter Iglesias.

    But, Peter Iglesias has turned them into his 5 lap-dogs.

    Let’s be frank: Peter Iglesias is the real, top authority for the City. You and I live in Iglesias-ville.

    I then ask you : Has Coral Gables become a reflection of his incompetence and corruption?

    Before you answer, consider what Peter Iglesias has done as the City Manager: the Mobility Hub, costing over $40 million, where only 5 residents (the commissioners) who wanted it prevailed over hundreds of other residents who didn’t want it; the upzoning scandal, where a huge deception on over-development at Biltmore Way was said to be only a simple mistake; the Wawa situation, where a big corporation was allowed to continue to build its store despite a “blatantly illegal” contract from the City attorney on public property; and the Burger Bob’s situation, where Peter Iglesisa’s favored, food developer (Rodney Barreto), who wanted to turn Burger Bob’s into a fancy, gold-fish bowel.

    I think you know my answer to that question. What is your answer?

  14. It is terrible that Barretto who does not need the business tried to take the name and following Bob and Rita built over 30 years.

    It is appalling to learn of another instance where Iglesias committed actions in conflict with protocols and against priorities of residential property owners.

    What can the electorate do to replace a city manager that fails to understand he is a public employee?

  15. Aside from his gross incompetence to solve routine matters like the country club, an investigation, maybe by a Grand Jury, into the deals Peter Iglasias has made, may be warranted.
    Keep in mind the Mobility Hub, the upzoning scandal, and his plan to change Burger Bob’s.

  16. It could be that Gene Prescott and the Seaway Corporation would take an interest in Coral Gables Country Club.

    They have proven themselves worthy custodians of The Biltmore and respectful of the community for thirty years.

    Everything they do so tastefully at The Biltmore would enhance neighborhood life around Granada Golf Course.

  17. Burger Bob’s customers including me enjoyed the home-town feel, getting good food at low prices, and the seeing familiar faces. I’ve heard over and over that “Rita,” meaning Rita Tennison, should manage Burger Bob’s. She has worked there 20 years is supported by Burger Bob’s long-time customers. Instead of a city employee taking over management of Burger Bob’s, these customers would prefer to see a familiar and loyal face manage Burger Bob’s.

  18. Unless something has changed, the city has no expertise nor in the hospitality business. Both venues should be run by professionals, who understand the needs of the community and the experience to make it viable.

  19. Let’s face facts. The 5 commissioners and the city manager, Peter Iglesias, are INCOMPETENT. They can’t solve the big problems in the City. All they can do is cut up cardboard boxes. I wish the election for new leaders was today.

  20. The Granada Pro Shop is way too large. It should be cut in half and give Burger Bob’s more room and some outside tables in order to make it a more viable business. Definitely not as expansive as the drawings previously submitted by Mr Barreto, but the idea is correct. No one will pay for the changes needed without a reasonable return.

  21. As Mr Amundsen stated “ if ain’t broke don’t fix it”
    Good idea ! Ms Tennyson will do a wonderful job, has been for years. As for the country club, that’s a tale of disasters, a once Coral Gables Rotary Club home for weekly meetings, money maker great for community relations. Do you really think government can run the CGCC? the youth center is plenty of responsibility.

  22. Although I have the utmost respect for Carolina Vester, I’ll have to second Amundsen’s common sense remarks for now.

  23. This should have been done a year ago to have a smooth transition without a long closure.

  24. Shakespeare is the (unwitting) poet laureate of Coral Gables:

    “Much Ado About Nothing;”
    “Tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
    “Comedy of Errors” and, finally:

    MEASURE FOR MEASURE.

  25. Gables Staff and politicians never heard “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. As North Greenway neighbors and frequent users we believe , if chosen.Ms. Tennyson can ably keep Burger Bob’s afloat.
    However, mark my words the screw ups to come at the Country Club under the neophyte restaurant operators of city employees from the Community Recreation Department will soon surface and leave us aghast and inconvenienced.
    Watch first for shorter work hours and less money making private events , the absence of which will drivie up taxpayer costs.
    Inexeperienced people running Liberty Cafe will make us all wish the original operator had not been harassed into leaving. Another fine mess courtesy of government .

  26. The City Commission needs to come up with a plan to run the Country Club and Burger Bob’s WITHOUT ANY MONEY, magic is what is needed (lol).

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