Business Politics

Hayward delays vote on airport food services for third month

December 3, 2013


Michael Laven, contract manager at the Pensacola International Airport, sent notification to Creative Food Group -that includes The Fish House, Varona’s, Bagelheads and Pensacola Brewery, that the food concession lease will not be discussed in December.

Hayward recommended to the city council at its Sept. 26 regular meeting the 10-year concession contract should be awarded to OHM Concessions—which included Chick-fil-A, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Surf City Squeeze and Corona Beach House.

The issue was tabled at the meeting when the Creative Food Group, the local restaurants’ employees and citizens spoke out in favor of their more local proposal. Since then, the mayor has pulled the item off the council’s agenda twice.

At the Oct. 22 agenda review when asked why the item was being pulled for the second time, City Administrator Colleen Castille said, “We’ve been evaluating a number of pieces of information. We’re still in the process of evaluating that.”

Here’s the email:

From: Michael Laven
Date: December 2, 2013 at 11:16:52 AM EST
To: “‘'”
Cc: Andrea Kvech

Subject: Pensacola Food and Beverage Concession Lease

Please be advised that the Airport Director will not be bringing the Food and Beverage concession lease agreement to the Pensacola City Council during its December, 2013 meeting. Both the Director and the Mayor will be out of the country on business.

We believe that the scheduling of this concession will take place in January or February of 2014.

Michael B. Laven, CPA, A.A.E.
Airport Administration & Contracts Manager
Pensacola International Airport
2430 Airport Blvd., Suite 225
Pensacola, FL 32504

According to Robert de Varona, his contract for food services at the airport is up in March 2014. The mayor’s postponements give little time for any new vendors to come in and do the necessary site work to be open for business by April 2014. Remember these proposals were sent into the city this past June.

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  • CJ Lewis December 3, 2013 at 9:41 am

    In which foreign country will the Mayor and his YES man Airport Director be? Any chance they will be shopping at the Hamburg (Germany) Christmas Market?

    As I recall, it was Laven who tried to cut OHM & Chick-fil-A some contractual maneuvering room claiming that it would probably be OK if Chik-fil-A was closed on Sundays, Thanksgiving and Christmas because other places would be open. Laven’s words are memorialized on the transcript.

    If the Council had its own independent legal counsel, as the Charter Review Commission twice voted it and the Mayor could both have but Hayward refuses to let the Council have, the Council could get independent legal advise with respect to whether or not the OHM bid is responsive to the RFP. If not, wouldn’t that be something if Team Fish House (Creative Food Group) won the RFP by default because it submitted the only responsive bid!

    The City Council should extend de Varona’s current contract by one year. Doing so would ensure a smooth transition to whatever is to come next, eliminates this matter as an election year issue and puts the decision in the hands what we hope starting in late November will be a new Leadership Mayor and a less weak City Council that does not feel “powerless” as Wu says of himself.

    Anticipating that Hayward tries to jam the OHM deal through after Christmas, the Local Foods advocates should be laying the groundwork for a Referendum vote to reverse the Council decision. There is plenty of justification given all of the hanky-panky in the RFP process. Now is the time to begin putting together a list of city voters eager to sign the petition.