Introductions and Disclaimer:
In an effort to ensure balanced reporting, Gables Insider has chosen to impartially present every perspective on this issue, refraining from editorializing. However, a few items should be clarified: During the City Commission’s December 12, 2023 meeting, where the possibility of opening this city-owned property for new rental opportunities was discussed, only the Asset Manager’s viewpoint was heard. The City, while legally within its rights to not renew the current lease ending in May 2024, is actively choosing to potentially displace a long-standing tenant. This decision, whether a negotiation strategy or a genuine move to end the tenancy, should be clearly communicated. Residents have expressed concerns about losing a treasured 24-year-old local eatery, mindful of past direct financial costs to residents of the takeover of Burger Bobs and The Country Club and are wary of the implications of the City’s actions in this new negotiation.
FRITZ & FRANZ’S RESPONSE TO THE CITY:
Let me start by saying that being the as a tenant of a city is never easy. You have to deal with everyone, including Mayors, Commissioners, City Managers, Asset Mangers, the Development Department, the Parking Department and Code Enforcement. Everyone is your landlord and no one is all at the same time. I remember the time when even the City did not know who was in charge, or who should represent the “Landlord”.
And believe me, I have had my share of “Landlords” over the past 24 Years.
Now to reply to the City’s recent response:
Yes, we have had disputes with the City over the years. This is typical of all long-term landlord/tenant relationships. However, everything has always been resolved and no money is owed to the City. The first dispute arose when the two High rises went up at the same time in front of Fritz & Franz Bierhaus. The street was closed off for extended periods of time and it was difficult for our customers to reach the restaurant. We lost a lot of business, then changed business, and lost even more. The City and I resolved our disputes at that time. If things were as bad as the City made it seem in their response, they would have evicted me, and yet I am still here. Many other businesses did not survive when the streetscape project was underway. Being choked off from access to your business is a difficult thing to manager, and yet we are still here!
In 2014 we received permission from the City Commission to host World Cup Watch Parties at the Plaza in front of the Bierhaus. The permission was from the beginning of the World Cup to the end, or about a month’s time. Despite being granted the permission, during the first week of the World Cup we received daily code violations alleging that we did not have permission, but of course we did. Classic example of the right hand not knowing what the left is doing. Of course, we persevered.
After the World Cup Final, we received a fine of about $12,000.00 along with a bill from the parking Department for about $11,000 for the use of the Plaza. We agreed to pay one of the two, and the City Manager and Parking Department Director decided to have us pay the higher fee. At the same time, we presented a bill to the City Manager for the City’s unauthorized use of our dumpster over the course 15 years. It was a third of the total amount we paid to Waste Management and not the $37,500 that the Asset Manager claims.
The City Manager and the Parking Department thereafter agreed to waive the citation fee for the World Cup and paid us approximately $3,782.65, which we did receive. We also agreed to mention this in the future since the city did not look good using a tenant’s dumpster without permission!
As per a mutual agreement with a long list of City Managers, i.e., Jack Eats, David Brown, Cathy Swanson and others before Peter Iglesias and the current Asset Manager Zeida Sardiñas, we had permission to store all our Event equipment in the Garage #6 ramp, for basically the last 20 Years! It definitely was not a safety hazard.
Regarding the sale of Fritz & Franz Bierhaus, it is true that we had it on the market 2 years ago. So what? Everyone knows that we could not have sold the business and assigned the lease without the City’s consent. If a suitable buyer presented itself, we would have gone to the City to seek an extension of the lease and consent to an assignment. Of course, that never happened and we took the business off the market after my son expressed his interest in carrying the name and the business forward. We have not shown the Bierhaus to anyone in the last 1 ½ years.
Zeida Sardinas wrote: It is important to note that the city has been contacted by realtors within the last few weeks who have reported that Mr. Neuweg was still actively offering/showing prospective buyers the Satchmo’s/Fritz & Franz business as available for sale stating that he will provide an assumable lease. THAT IS NOT TRUE. We have not shown this place to anyone, and we would love to know the names of these realtors.
Regarding the yearly sales at Fritz & Franz Bierhaus it needs to be understood that it includes all Food & Beverage Sales from outdoor events like Oktoberfest, Champions League Final, Euro, Copa America, and the World Cup (which happens only every 4 years). Depriving us of our ability to host Oktoberfest by enforcing a ludicrous and arbitrary decibel limit of 72 decibels hurting our top and bottom lines significantly.
Regarding the “PROPOSAL”
We had until November 31st 2023 to provide the City with the proposal the Asset Manager requested. Nevertheless, the City served us with the Notice of Nonrenewal prior to the deadline. The Notice of Nonrenewal was written on September 27th 2023 and delivered shortly thereafter. Why did they do that? Why not allow us the allotted time to provide a proposal?
Regarding Rent, I am happy to pay the same base rent as the new upcoming restaurant in the same building. I have no problem with that! Of course, since the City jumped the gun and has refused to negotiate with a Tenant that has been here over 20 years they are unaware of our willingness to pay market rates.
Chef Owner, Fritz & Franz Bierhaus
President, Satchmo Blues Bar & Grill Inc.