Royal OakFebruary 05, 2014
City to seek bids on contractor to run farmers market restaurant
By Robert Guttersohn
C & G Staff Writer
Jonathan Freiman picks up his order Feb. 1 from Jenny Lowman. The City Commission is requesting proposals for the space.
ROYAL OAK — The city will seek bids from catering companies to lease the restaurant area inside the Royal Oak Farmers Market.
Rather than approve another multiyear contract with Creative Catering Group, the City Commission instead voted Jan. 27 to extend the contract with the company for six months. Additionally, the approved resolution calls for the city to send out a request for proposals to catering companies during the length of the extension.
The commission’s decision goes against the recommendation the city administration originally made.
The administration proposed that the commission approve a new two-year contract with Creative Catering with a city option for a third year. Creative Catering would pay the city $8,500 annually throughout the length of the contract.
The city has been under contract with Creative Catering since 2011 to serve breakfast at the Royal Oak Farmers Market during the weekends.
City Manager Don Johnson said it is not normal practice to go out for new bids every time a contract ends, particularly if the city is pleased with the work being done.
“This contract has been in place for three years, and we’ve been very satisfied with the performance of the contractor,” Johnson said.
The commission’s vote was 4-2. Mayor Jim Ellison and Commissioner Peggy Goodwin voted no. Commissioner Sharlan Douglas was absent from the meeting.
Ellison said the city likely won’t find a more suitable company in the bidding process.
“I’m happy with these people, and we should go ahead and approve this contract,” Ellison said.
Greg Rassel, the city’s director of public services, said Creative Catering was the only company to respond to the proposal in 2011.
The commissioners who voted in favor of collecting new bids said the economy was in bad shape in 2011, so the city may find more interest from businesses willing to pay the city more to serve food at the market now.
“I think it’s good to see what’s out there,” said Mayor Pro Tem David Poulton.
Seymour Schwartz, a Huntington Woods resident and a cook, requested during the public comment portion of the meeting that the city bid out the lease.
“I wanted to bid and was upset to see there was no bid opportunity,” Schwartz said.
He called the restaurant space inside the farmers market an “extraordinarily underutilized asset” for Royal Oak.
“It seems to me the council has an obligation to maximize all the assets,” he said.
The Review was unsuccessful in reaching Creative Catering for comment.