Iconic Root Beer Barrel Leasee Wants A Long-Time Deal To Run His Popular Eatery Business There For Several Years; City Officials Discuss Possible Legal Issue Of No-Bid Deal
Following discussion Monday night, Douglas city officials resolved to postpone the lease renewal of the iconic root beer barrel concession stand for current leaseholder Michael White, citing they needed to check with legal counsel about whether or not the city is legally required to bid out that lease.
The root beer and hot dog concession—which operates inside the refurbished barrel, as it was done back in the 1950s until the mid-1970s—has been a successful enterprise since White started it this past summer in August.
The popular venue served hundreds of folks waiting in long lines on most days and getting a lot of local media attention.
To wrap up the season, White will be serving free root beer and hot dogs to trick-or-treaters on Halloween, his very last day.
By all accounts, Douglas city officials have been very pleased with White: he’s “homegrown,” being a 25-year Saugatuck-area resident; previous owner of a local retail business; and more recently Sunset Subs eatery in Douglas.
He has taken initiative in getting all the proper permits from the Allegan County Health Department and he has demonstrated a lot of interest by investing $12,000 on the project.
“It would be my pleasure to make sure the barrel is represented in a manner that we can all be proud of. I learned that the barrel means so much to the generations that remember it and have had such a good time reliving the experience with them.
“I am here tonight to ask for a lease that, at my age, will give me a piece of mind and stability,” White told council Monday, reading from a prepared statement.
Council responded favorably to White’s desire for a lease longer than one year; council said three or four years would be acceptable.
“I am in favor of giving Mick (White) a long-term lease. It gives him an opportunity to collect on his investment, but we have never officially bid this out. We have not given anybody else a chance to bid,” said Douglas City Councilman Aaron Miller.
“I have also had other constituents share the same concern,” noted Douglas City Council Member Patricia Lion, echoing the sentiment.
“It (bid process) probably should have been done from the beginning,” said Miller.
Council members also pointed out that other leases with the city, namely Running River Kayak Rentals, have not gone through a bid process either, they noted.
“I tried so hard to find someone to run a concession there, but nobody wanted to because there was no water supply or there was limited electricity,” Douglas City Zoning Administrator Lisa Imus shared with council.
Of the latter issue, city officials say they plan on getting a water supply to the iconic barrel.