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City attracts one proposal for concessions at Thompson Park golf clubhouse

Mar. 2—WATERTOWN — The city on Thursday received one proposal from a local restaurant operator to run the clubhouse in the newly acquired former Watertown Golf Club.

Spokes Craft Beer and Tapas, the popular Public Square nightspot, was the only business to submit a proposal to operate the concessions at the clubhouse for the Thompson Park Golf Course.

Getting an operator for the clubhouse is considered one of the major needs to get the golf course open for this season.

The city will review the proposal and "discuss it with them," City Manager Kenneth A. Mix said after receiving the proposal, adding that the city will "get in negotiations" before making a decision on the restaurant's submission.

Spokes proposed paying an annual rate of $1 to run the clubhouse concessions.

City Council members had hoped that the revenues from the clubhouse would offset a $140,000 projected loss for this golf season.

Jamie Danielson, who purchased Spokes in December 2021, attended the bid opening in City Council's third-floor chambers at City Hall on Thursday afternoon.

"We have a great staff with a lot of talent," she said. "It will give our staff an opportunity to grow."

Describing it as "a risk," Ms. Danielson said she is aware of the controversy created by the city's purchase of the former Watertown Golf Club for $3.4 million from Michael E. Lundy in recent months.

But the sometimes bitter debate didn't stop her from putting in a proposal, she said, saying that she remains "impartial" and is confident that her staff is up for the task.

City purchasing manager Tina Bartlett-Bearup was surprised the city did not receive more proposals, since her office and the parks and recreation office received several calls from restaurant operators leading up to Thursday's deadline.

The city's purchasing department sent out information to more than 40 restaurants to get them interested in the venture. The vendor will be selected on March 20.

"She has a great proposal," Ms. Bartlett-Bearup said of the Spokes proposal.

Mr. Mix shrugged his shoulders, saying he didn't know whether the bad publicity and talk by Mayor Jeffrey M. Smith and others hurt the city's chances of attracting other proposals.

It will take a little time to go through the proposal before the city would finalize a deal.

According to its proposal packet, the bar would be called "Spokes on the Green" and be open seven days a week.

Starting at 11 a.m., it would serve "grab and go breakfasts" and lunches during regular golf club hours, brunches on weekends in the event tent and an entree-style buffet on Friday evenings. The bar would serve Spokes' craft beers and cocktails.

Special events would be booked in the event tent, with live music a regular occurrence. The vendor can expect to be open for between eight and a dozen tournaments.

Ms. Danielson envisions employing a staff of 25, at least five of whom would be full time.

Spokes needs to work out details with the city while it applies for a full liquor license with the state, according to the proposal.

The owner also is requesting some modifications to the clubhouse. Spokes would provide both interior and patio furniture and landscaping around entrances.

With a loyal following, Spokes employs a staff of 13 bartenders, cooks, servers, hosts and caterers at its Public Square location.

In its proposal, the owner said that Spokes continues to grow in sales each season.

The initial contract will run until Dec. 31, with the option of three more years. The agreement would start as soon as possible.

In some related developments, the city plans to start interviewing next week for a full-time golf course manager to oversee the facility and employees to work at the golf course, Mr. Mix said.

The city is still working on retaining an electrician to conduct an inspection of issues that were unexpectedly found in the basement after the deal closed with Mr. Lundy on Dec. 28.