The Avalon City Council is revisiting discussions about what to do with the City Fuel Dock/Casino Dock Cafe, which was demolished in 2015 due to safety issues.
AVALON—City discussions about what to do with the city-owned City Fuel Dock and former Casino Dock Cafe have re-emerged.
The site includes a fueling station for vessels, bathrooms, a picnic area and used to include a restaurant, Casino Dock Café. There have been City Council discussions and efforts to bring back a waterfront eatery on the dock but discussions have been in limbo since 2018.
Now it seems those discussions have been revived. The City Council briefly discussed the property at their Aug. 18 meeting. According to a staff report, city staff have begun preliminary research to assess the viability of soliciting requests for proposals (RFP) for third parties to take over operation of the fuel dock, in an effort to save money. Currently, operations of the city fuel dock result in an approximate $200,000 loss annually for the city, according to the staff report. The City Council may consider including potential restaurant operations or an alternative business opportunity as a part of that proposal.
The land is owned by the Catalina Island Company.
City Clerk Denise Radde said staff would be coming back to a future City Council meeting, likely in September, with the potential RFP, allowing time for the three new members on the Council to review the history.
Due to safety issues exacerbated by a storm in December 2014, the fuel dock and Casino Dock Café were demolished in January 2015. The fuel dock was renovated and enhanced and in 2017 the City Council requested city staff to revise a RFP for qualified parties interested in constructing, leasing and operating a restaurant on the property.
The city had been negotiating terms with Russell and Jenny Armstrong, who previously operated Casino Dock Café. However, in late 2017 negotiations came to an impasse.
The Armstrongs said it would not be in their financial best interest to agree to pay for construction of the Casino Dock restaurant and, when construction is complete, to hand the keys back to the city without any financial mitigation, according to previous Log reporting.
After negotiations reached an impasse with the former restaurant owners, the city received three new responses.
However, according to a staff report, it was determined that pursuing a long-term lease with a restaurant owner may not be in the city’s, or a potential small business owner’s best interest due to a number of outstanding issues.
Then in 2018, city staff presented a number of other options for City Council’s consideration for the potential use of the facility, including allowing caterers or food trucks to rent the space; maintaining the facility as a public space for all to use and adding it to the city’s fee schedule, making it available for rental; allowing the Community Service Department to use the facility for other creative, public uses to be determined; and developing a broad request for proposal soliciting ideas for temporary, commercial use of the facility.
Previous Log reporting from 2018 said Council members stated the overarching goal was to have a permanent restaurant placed at the location.