Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Thursday, Aug. 3 @ 2:34 p.m. / Community, Local Government
Harbor Commissioners Reconsider Proposed Beer Garden and Food Truck Pod Location After Restaurant Owner Speaks Up
After Chart Room owner Jenny Wellman raised safety concerns, Crescent City Harbor commissioners had second thoughts about the location for a proposed beer garden and potential food truck gathering.
Instead of approving a space rental agreement with Port o’ Pints Brewing Company’s new owner, John Kirk, Harbor District Board President Wes White on Tuesday appointed commissioners Rick Shepherd and Brian Stone to an ad-hoc committee.
The beer garden’s proposed location between the Chart Room and Schmidt’s House of Jambalaya is too narrow, Stone said. He said he also wanted to make sure the food trucks’ menus weren’t conflicting with the fare at the two Anchor Way restaurants.
“We haven’t really sat down and planned this out,” Stone told his colleagues. “I love the concept, but it’s a narrow space. You’re going to have people racing up and down there. Most people will be looking at the pretty scenery and going slow, but you might want to consider speed bumps or even stop signs along Anchor Way.”
Under the proposed two-year rental agreement Harbormaster Tim Petrick brought to commissioners, Kirk would lease the space for $500 per month plus 6 percent of Port o’ Pints’ revenue from that location.
Petrick said the space alongside Anchor Way is where he and his staff plan on installing multiple food trucks or “containerized kitchen spaces.” He envisioned the trucks to be arranged in a U shape with an open area facing South Beach. Petrick said he has also discussed having a covered deck area that would include shared seating.
One food truck vendor mentioned installing a propane fire pit in that spot with seating around it, Petrick said.
“The food trucks we have talked to do not have significant overlap with the menus at either restaurant, but we’re not discussing those leases. This is just the beer garden,” he said. “My understanding is the House of Jambalaya, the Schmidts, felt like it could be good for business bringing more people down to the Harbor — more people wanting spicy jambalaya when drinking their beer.”
According to Petrick, Kirk’s goal is to serve the public year-round including during the off season.
Petrick also said he had sat down with the Schmidts to discuss the issue.
However, according to Jennifer Schmidt, who owns Schmidt’s House of Jambalaya with her husband Mike, Petrick never discussed the proposed beer garden with her or her husband.
“We have, of course, heard about it from the community. John Kirk came to our restaurant to ask my thoughts on it, but we never had a discussion with Tim about it,” she told the Outpost on Tuesday. “Our main concerns about this idea are parking, public safety and lack of restrooms. There are no restrooms in that side of the harbor. Ours is the only toilet available for all of the visitors of South Beach and Anchor Way.”
Wellman also brought up safety concerns from the cars that travel through that area as well as the RVs “that take up big spots.” She also said the proposed lease agreement with Port O’ Pints was unfair to her as a brick and mortar restaurant owner.
“I think you should be charging them more,” Wellman said. “We pay the unsecured property taxes and all the crazy stuff that we pay, and then somebody can go in there and then somebody can go in there and just put in a trailer? Are you going to have food trucks available there as well?”
Wellman pointed out that people walk across the street to get to the beach in that area, negotiating motorists who are using it as a thoroughfare and others who are backing out in that area. She also pointed out that there are no painted lines on Anchor Way.
Petrick acknowledged that people cross that road “at all times for all reasons.” The Harbor District installed reflectors down the center about two weeks ago and are pursuing grants to replace the road and repair the parking lot. That would include re-striping the pavement, he said.
“I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t turn the Starfish and Anchor Way intersection into a three-way stop instead of a one-way, which would slow traffic,” Petrick said. “I think that would make sense and has been part of our discussions as far as planning goes as well.”
Stone asked Petrick if there were plans to fence the beer garden off. He also raised concerns about its close proximity to the road, saying he didn’t want to have a “drunk standing there, wandering out into traffic and getting hit by a car, which would then give us liability.”
The Harbor District’s account manager, Thomas Zickgraf, urged commissioners to support the lease, pointing out that the goal is to increase community engagement as well as revenue.
“Dr. Kirk is someone that we should be working with and so I really recommend that you support this lease,” he said. “We need the revenue, we need the business and it would be a real benefit to the Harbor.”