Collier commissioners OK Tigertail Beach concessionaire contract; shuttle service announced

Collier County commissioners approved a contract Tuesday for an Orlando-based company to run the food and rental concession at Tigertail Beach Park on Marco Island.

The commissioners did not discuss the item because it was approved as part of the consent agenda where matters considered routine are approved on a single vote.

SSG Recreation agreed to pay 20% of its gross sales or $2,000 per month, whichever is greater, to the county during three years with two one-year renewals, according to a county executive summary.

SSG will open for business no later than April 8, according to a news release from the company.

From last year:Tigertail beach rental to shut down after dispute with Collier; Fiala speaks out

Commissioner Rick LoCastro, whose district includes Marco Island, said the county had to make sure food and rental services came back to Tigertail after the county operated the park without one for the last nine months.

"We got to make sure those services come back to Tigertail Beach so that we can take care of our visitors and residents," LoCastro said.

Nicholas Parziale, CEO of SSG Recreation, highlighted that the company is veteran-owned. He served in the Army National Guard and in the Army from 2011 to 2018.

"We are just honored to have this opportunity," Parziale said Tuesday.

What's coming to Tigertail Beach Park?

In a news release, the company said it will offer shuttle services via golf cart to bring guests from the rental hut to the beach and back. The hut will rent kayaks, paddleboards, beach chairs and umbrellas.

The restaurant, called Nicky P's, will offer American fare options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, desserts, drinks, beer and wine. 

"It is our intention to bring live music, educational programs, community outreach programs, as well as discounts to veterans who visit Tigertail Beach," the company said.

In September, the county released a request for proposals from vendors, and received two proposals.

A selection committee convened in December, ranking the vendors based on criteria like the proposers’ qualifications, description of proposed operations, and compliance with other requirements, according to the summary.

The selection committee ranked Tigertail Explorers as the best-ranked firm and SSG Recreation as the second best, but contract negotiations with Tigertail Explorers were unsuccessful, according to the summary.

"Contract negotiations with Tigertail Explorers LLC were ultimately unsuccessful because of requested changes to the minimum requirements established in the publicly advertised solicitation. Those requested changes amounted to a material change in the scope of the advertised solicitation," the summary states.

In February, county staff began negotiations with SSG Recreation, and after favorable negotiations staff recommended that the agreement be awarded to SSG, according to the summary.

A Tigertail Beach Cafe sign reflects on water at the Tigertail Beach Park on July 6, 2020.

How Collier County got here

In July, Anthony J. Smith, CEO of Recreational Facilities of America, announced he would cease concession operations on Tigertail after decades in business following unresolved disputes with the county.

RFA won a bid in March of last year to continue operating the concessions but, citing COVID-19 shutdowns and issues with beach conditions at Tigertail, tried to unsuccessfully renegotiate the terms of a new agreement with the county.

Barry Williams, director of the county's parks and recreation department, said last year that Collier County commissioners waived contractual payment obligations last year for all county concessionaires during March, April and May.

The county was renting the concessions to RFA for 13% of its gross sales or $500 monthly, whichever was greater, Williams said.

The county was also billing RFA $50 each month for utility fees.

From January:Audubon: Tigertail lagoon restoration could impact nesting habitat for threatened birds

RFA paid the county approximately $53,598 in fiscal 2017, $52,922 in fiscal 2018 and $61,079 in fiscal 2019, according to Williams.

If RFA was to move forward with the new contract, it would have had to pay 20% of its gross sales or $2,000 monthly, whichever was greater, according to a request for proposal released in January of last year.

LoCastro said nobody could replace Smith.

"Although Tony Smith was one of a kind and truly a Tigertail ambassador, our job now is to make this new concessionaire successful in delivering the same five-star service and food we had down there," LoCastro said.

Contact Omar at omar.rodriguezortiz@naplesnews.com, and follow him on Twitter as @Omar_fromPR. Support his work by subscribing to Naples Daily News.