Council OKs downtown contracts

Published 12:14 am Wednesday, March 16, 2016


Steakhouse, renovated theater step closer

Downtown Andalusia is one step closer to having a new restaurant and theater downtown, after the city council on Tuesday approved lease contracts with two businesses.

Mayor Earl Johnson explained the contract with Big Mike’s Restaurant Andalusia, LLC:

• The city agrees to install an elevator in the facility known as the Andala building, which it owns, at a cost not to exceed $100,000. The restaurant will occupy all three floors. The city also will undertake renovations of the first floor at an expense not to exceed $500,000. Any expense beyond $500,000 will be the responsibility of the restaurant owners.

• Big Mike’s will pay the city $800,000 over the lease term. The owners will pay the city $100,000 in cash upon the execution of the lease. No other rent will be due during the first year. In the second year, the business will pay $2,500 per month for 120 consecutive months, for a total of $300,000. The remaining $400,000 shall be paid in the amount of two percent of gross sales every month. The restaurant owners also have an option to buy the building.

Owners Mike Cole, Scott Powell and Caine Conway also own Big Mike’s in Thomasville, Ala., and draw customers from as far away as Mississippi. Their menu will be very much like the Thomasville location, they said. That menu offers a ribeye, New York Strip, or filet mignon, and they can be served smothered with caramelized onions and sautéed mushrooms, with fried or grilled shrimp, or with lump crab meat. On the seafood side, the menu includes Ahi tuna, chicken, and fresh Gulf Coast shrimp or oysters. They also will serve oysters on the half shell.

The restaurant is expected to produce annual sales of approximately $2 million, and will have 30 to 35 employees.

The theater agreement is different.

“This project is possible from a lot of moving parts coming together,” Johnson said.

The project would not have been possible, he said, if Lester and Bob O’Neal had not agreed to donate the building to the city in return for a tax credit to offset income tax credits for the next five years.

“We have zero basis in the building itself,” Johnson said. “We will go in and completely refurbish the building. We have an architectural firm h tat has done preliminary work,” Johnson said. “Bids will be opened the last week of this month.”

The city will renovate the facility and lease it to Clark Theatres, Inc., which has operated in Andalusia for many years. The lease contract says:

• Clark will lease the building for $700 per month until construction begins. During construction, the company will pay no rent; and once construction is completed, the lease will be $4,000 per month. After the first year, the monthly lease amount will be adjusted based upon the Consumer Price Index.

• The lease requires the lessee to maintain a strict custodial program and to have an employee development program in which employees are required to wear uniforms.

• The city will create an entertainment district in downtown which will levy a surcharge on concession sales. Revenue derived from this measure will be used solely to debt service of the project or to maintenance when debt is retired.

Johnson said when the theater reopens, it will have a considerably larger concession area with more offerings.