Largo Library and the Bookmark Café Not on the Same Page
by Bill Lopez
LARGO - City commissioner Mary Black requested that the City Commission review the compensation agreement between the Bookmark Café and the Largo Public Library. Black told commissioners Tuesday that she has been a frequent patron of the Café consuming pricy coffees for quite a while but that lately, with the economy being what it is, she has cut back.
Apparently, lots of other folks have done the same. Yet, many still enjoy the food services provided by the Bookmark Café. Accordingly the city commission is committed to retaining the service for library patrons in the City of Largo.
As business volumes have declined at the establishment and a reduction in rent would make operation of the café that serves library patrons more cost effective. Recently the City Commission approved a reduction of rent paid to the city by the Golfview Café at the Largo Golf Course in recognition of less business volume than anticipated at that location after a after a request from the operators.
Commissioner Woody Brown indicated that no formal request for a rent reduction has been made of the commission. However, Mayor Pat Gerard and other commissioners said they have had requests from the operator of the café for a rent reduction.
The Bookmark Café opened for business in the Largo Public Library when the new library opened to the public July 31, 2005. Cafe operators had an agreement with the city to operate the café for five years, with renewals, for annual compensation to the city of $18,000 for rent with an annual escalator of 3%. The current monthly rent is $1,638 plus sales tax in the amount of $114.66.
The agreement is for a five-year term, with subsequent renewal periods subject to the approval of Bookmark Cafe, LLC and the city.
In April of 2006 Bookmark Cafe, LLC was sold by the original owners to Dalal Mansour. It was represented to the city at the time that the new owners would also include Mansour's brother, Rameh Baydoun. Baydoun was never included as an owner of the firm in the corporate filing with the State of Florida for this entity.
Section 11 of the agreement, titled Modification of Agreement and Entire Agreement, provides that “This Agreement may not be assigned without the mutual written consent of both parties.” At the time of this transaction, it was the City Attorney's opinion that since the business entity which was a party to the agreement remained, a change in the ownership of the business entity did not constitute an assignment of the agreement.
To date, neither the Administration nor the Library Director has been contacted by Mansour with a request to discuss or reduce her rent. In preparation for this City Commission discussion, city staff checked the Secretary of State's web site to confirm the continued existence of Bookmark Cafe, LLC. This limited liability corporation was dissolved effective April 24, 2007. It appears that the café is currently operating under Bookmark Cafe of Largo, Inc., with Mansour as the owner.
The city has never been notified of this change and the cafe's liability insurance policy, which is required by the agreement, is still under the old name. In accordance with the provisions of the Authority to Operate Agreement, the Staff Attorney has mailed a letter (copy attached) to Mansour regarding this issue.
Commissioners expressed the desire to retain food service at the library and elected to defer consideration on the matter to a commission work session.
Contact Bill Lopez at firstname.lastname@example.org
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