A full-service restaurant, a summer concession stand and new recreational options are planned next year for the Como Lakeside Pavilion in St. Paul, replacing a vendor to whom the city paid $800,000 to settle a breach of contract lawsuit.
City officials said Thursday they’ve chosen Como Dockside — a group that includes Jon and Jarrett Oulman, owners of the Amsterdam Bar in St. Paul and the 331 Club in Minneapolis, and Amsterdam co-owner Josh Mandelman — to operate and maintain the city-owned pavilion through 2020.
The management agreement, which requires the new vendor to invest $200,000 in the pavilion up front and guarantees annual revenue payments to the city of at least $100,000, will be reviewed by the parks commission next week and go to the City Council for final approval on Dec. 17.
If the council approves, Como Dockside will take over operations Jan. 5 and throw a grand opening for the renovated pavilion in May.
“I’m actually really excited about this agreement,” Parks and Recreation Director Mike Hahm said. “It’s everything we wanted to have for this facility.”
After the renovation is complete, the pavilion will have a new restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, a concession stand off the walking trails, rentals including kayaks, canoes and Surrey bikes and at least 100 annual stage events.
Hahm said those amenities are a response to more than 1,000 comments from residents on what they hoped to see at the pavilion, the centerpiece of one of the metro area’s most popular parks, with 4.4 million visitors each year.
Black Bear Crossings took over the pavilion in 2000 when the city decided to contract out the business, and signed its most recent lease in 2009 with the city’s encouragement.
But last year city officials said the cafe was underachieving and set revenue goals of $500,000 for 2014 and $750,000 for 2015, which co-owner David Glass called unrealistic.
After the city booted Black Bear, Glass sued and a judge ruled that the business could seek damages for breach of contract. The city settled with Glass last summer for $800,000, the third largest settlement in St. Paul’s history.
Black Bear made annual rent payments to the city ranging from $25,000 to $28,000. Como Dockside won’t pay the city rent, but rather 9 percent of monthly gross revenues starting next November or at least $100,000 annually. The new vendor also will contribute to a capital improvement fund during peak months.
Renewal of the contract — which was the issue in the Glass lawsuit — will be based on a series of performance standards including revenue, reinvestment, service hours and community use.
City officials have made no secret of the fact that they want to draw the same kind of crowds as Minneapolis parks with popular lakeside eateries such as Tin Fish and Sandcastle.
Joe Spencer, Coleman’s cultural adviser, said Thursday the contract with Como Dockside will set “a new gold standard for what a public facility can do” in terms of expanded hours and year-round operation.
“We’ll be calling this the ‘St. Paul model’ from now on,” he said.