Pressure on to Find Use for Restaurant Money

BLYTHEWOOD – The restaurant that just last year seemed destined for Doko Meadows in Blythewood’s Town Center is fading fast, leaving in its wake not only a huge pile of sand but a conundrum of ‘what-to-do’s’ regarding the money from grants and loans the Town acquired to build it. While discussing their options at Tuesday’s budget work session at The Manor, the Town’s economic development consultant, Ed Parler, explained that if they failed to use the money ($1,350,000) as planned and returned it to Santee Cooper, the Town would have to pay a penalty to the lender/grantor.

Parler suggested that, instead of aborting the Town’s restaurant project and returning the money, he would like to see Council hang on to the money for now and pay the $18,000 annual interest payment due next October to Santee Cooper. He asked that Council consider appropriating that payment in the budget. Parler said, ideally, he would like to see the Town try to find a restaurateur who would want to build a restaurant similar to the upscale restaurant Mayor J. Michael Ross, former Town Administrator John Perry and the former Town Council had attempted to contract for last year with Jonathan Bazinet.

“We have the money and the design for a restaurant that we would like to see built, and we can look for proposals from anyone interested in doing business in a similar type service,” Parler told Council.

He suggested that, over the next six months, the Town use the local media to get the word out that the Town is looking for prospects.

“After 45-60 days, if we don’t find what we’re looking for,” he said, “we might look at a family-style operation with the appeal of taking advantage of the park. If we still don’t get anyone, then we can send out RFQ’s (requests for proposals) for developers. My idea is to create job opportunities, a place that would employ people.”

Parler said that if a restaurant doesn’t work out, maybe an office complex could be located where the restaurant was planned.

Councilman Bob Mangone took the plan a step further, suggesting that the Town put the loaned/granted money into the Manor and turn it into a high-end restaurant, a move that he said might prove profitable for the facility.

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