Los Alamos Golf Course Community Building. Courtesy/LAC
Recreation Division Manager Randy Smith provided an update today regarding the negotiated lease agreement terms that will pave the way for the Pajarito Golf Group (PGG) to open a new restaurant at the Golf Course Community Building – an amenity that the public has long awaited since last summer.
Smith said that the two parties are very close to announcing a new lease date that will take effect in early 2015. The lease start date was originally anticipated for Nov. 1, 2014, but was moved out with mutual agreement between the County and PGG, represented by Patrick Mockler-Wood, Catherine Mockler and Pawel and Dorota Listwan. PGG will be responsible for setting up the restaurant and its associated business of booking and catering events that take place in the Community Room of the new facility.
“While the original plan was to have everything in place by Nov. 1, there are a variety of complex details with respect to the lease that we needed to work through,” Smith said, adding that the lease terms should be finalized after the first of the year. The County has had regularly scheduled meetings with recreation and golf course staff, PGG partners and County Attorney Rebecca Ehler regarding the lease.
The lease represents a new relationship with a contractor for a County facility, Smith said, because PGG will book the Community Room for events such as weddings, reunions and corporate meetings – as well as working with the professional golf course staff bringing in golf tournaments who will use the room for post-golf dinners or social functions. The lease is the first of its kind for the County. Details included booking and costs for County events and public meetings, set up and tear down of the room, scheduling events, and use of the room as overflow for the restaurant when not otherwise being used.
Golf Course Manager Steve Wickliffe agreed with Smith that the process had unfolded over the summer months, but that the final lease terms are a win-win for all involved.
“This is the first time that we’ve had a contractor booking a County meeting space,” Wickliffe said. “It required us to think differently about how we interacted with our contractor, the public and our golf customers. We spent time discussing and documenting expectations and defining roles and responsibilities, to be sure we are all on the same page with this new process and able to explain it to the public.”
Smith added that commercial kitchen equipment was a related area needing follow up after the Council formally approved moving ahead with PGG last summer. Finding the right kind of equipment and ordering it took time. Most of the furniture has been received and is being stored, he said. The other step that took longer than first expected was obtaining electrical and mechanical permits from the State. Work could not proceed until the permits were received on Monday and the County’s project manager and Capital Projects staff are now working on finalizing the construction schedule this week.
“Working through all of these details takes time, however, the end result should be a high-quality kitchen that will support the restaurant and catering business that PGG brings to the golf course,” Smith said.
Mockler-Wood agreed that the extra time spent working through the lease agreement was beneficial because this is the first time that PGG has entered into this kind of a contract, and they want to ensure their customers have a wonderful experience, whether dining at the new restaurant or booking the Community Room for a special event.
“Our team at PGG is very excited about the Golf Course Community Building and its potential. Working with the County on the final lease agreement is very productive with both parties making sure that the operation of the restaurant and the catering business is of the top quality,” Mockler-Wood said.
Even with the start of the lease in early 2015, Listwan said that opening day for the new restaurant will be announced separately by PGG in 2015, to allow them plenty of time to prepare the new space for the restaurant to open.
“Setting up a new restaurant, bar and the catering operation is a challenging task. Having the place furnished, kitchen equipped and tested is one aspect of the operation. What is more important is that the service provided to our guests must be of the highest possible standard and our staff needs to be properly trained before official opening,” Listwan said.
The Golf Course staff has been logging requests for advance bookings of the Community Room without obligation, pending the signing of the lease documents, and will continue to take requests until the new lease begins. Wickliffe said that the request list will be turned over to PGG to begin following up with prospective customers wanting use of the Community Room based on a first come, first served basis.
Smith said that the County entered into mediation with the construction contractor in July after terminating their contract, but the mediation did not produce an agreement. The County has filed a claim with the construction contractor’s bonding company and is awaiting a decision as to whether the bonding company will complete the project. In the interim, Capital Projects staff are working diligently to address outstanding construction items at the building by using County staff or contractors. Items related to the restaurant space will be completed before PGG’s lease begins. Other construction items such as removal of the former golf pro shop just east of the new building, might not be accomplished until Spring.