VERO BEACH ― Changes are afoot for the popular Seaside Grill in Jaycee Park, Vero Beach, but the nature of those changes is not yet known.
At the Aug. 17 City Council meeting, City Manager Monte Falls announced that current lessee Daniel Culumber is planning on retiring, and the restaurant will not renew the lease when it terminates on May 5, 2022.
Mr. Falls and Planning Director Jason Jeffries asked the council to provide direction so they could put out a request for proposals. They received that guidance, and city staff will now look for a new restaurant operator.
“Since 1992 it’s been leased to the Culumber family,” Mr. Falls said. “Rudy Culumber was the original lessee. He turned it over to his son Dan, and Dan and his family have run it since. They are ready to retire. They have only taken off two days a year, and Dan said they are ready to move on to something else.”
Mr. Falls told the council that staff wanted to put out an RFP so they could arrange the next use of the location as soon as possible, as the public really likes the opportunity to relax and eat at the convenient and affordable beachside location.
According to Mr. Jeffries, prior to 1992, the Seaside Grill was known as the Seaburger Restaurant. The structure has existed in the park since 1957.
In response to a question from Councilmember Honey Minuse, Mr. Falls said they were looking to have something similar to the Seaside Grill.
“Currently the Seaside Grill is only open for breakfast and lunch,” Mr. Jeffries said. “There has been some talk about whether we would want evening service there.”
Councilmember Bob McCabe said he would like to see the restaurant open longer hours. Mr. Falls suggested the restaurant should be open no later than the park is open, to coordinate the two closing times.
There is a restriction in the lease regarding serving alcohol and outside music, but Mr. Falls said that is within the city council’s purview to change. Following some discussion about alcohol, the city council concluded that even offering only beer and wine was not something they desired.
Vice Mayor Rey Neville urged the council to keep the restaurant affordable for less wealthy families.
“The thing I’d hope we focus on is that it would be a family-friendly location,” Mr. Neville said. “People that enjoy Jaycee Park frequently are not wealthy. I would very much like everyone to be able to participate there, which is what they have now, with fairly reasonable prices, I think that’s important.”
There was discussion about requiring the next restaurant to use only reusable cups and utensils instead of disposable items, as a way to reduce trash, but that seemed to be defeated by the argument that many people pick something up at the grill and then take it elsewhere.
The existing restaurant structure is 1,350 square feet. The council said they would consider an RFP that includes expansion, but only up to the P2 zoning district requirement that permits restaurants of less than 2,500 square feet as an accessory use to a recreation park.
According to Mr. Jeffries, Jaycee Park is a "charter protected property" listed in Section 5.05 of the City Charter as a park or public land that may not be sold, leased, traded, or given away by the city unless such sale, lease, trade, or gift is approved by a vote of the electors of the city of Vero Beach. Pursuant to Section 5.05 (b), the property may be leased without a referendum for a public or civic purpose which also serves a recreational, artistic, or cultural purpose, including incidental concessions.
No vote was taken, and Planning Director Jeffries said that he had the direction he needed to put out a request for proposals.
The Seaside Grill is open for breakfast and lunch at 4200 Ocean Dr., in Jaycee Park, Vero Beach.