Boat shop looks to expand amenities with pizza restaurant
A Non-Flood Protection Asset Management Authority (NF-PAMA) committee agreed to begin negotiations with Schubert’s Marine to convert their former fuel dock building into a pizza restaurant.
The Non-Flood Authority’s commercial real estate committee met on June 20, where they discussed the possibility to recommend to the full board Schubert’s Marine’s proposal to open a pizza restaurant on their property. The boat repair shop is located in the West End area on 126 South Roadway Street.
Mickey Weiser, president of Schubert’s Marine, told the committee that he has managed the facility since 2002 with his partner John Brimer, until the latter was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident earlier this year. Weiser said he is currently managing the shop with his sister and her two sons, Philip and Jordan.
“Frankly, the dock repair business is on life support out there on the West End,” Weiser said at the meeting. “We’re struggling to maintain a steady revenue source. Simply, the boats have not returned since Hurricane Katrina.”
Their proposal now is to utilize some of their property to create an additional source of income. The former fuel dock building is approximately 1,200 square feet and would host a pizza restaurant with a new name, as well as a small bar.
Wilma Heaton, chairwoman of the Non-Flood Authority, said she visited the site and thinks the space is perfect for a restaurant. Her question to Schubert’s Marine was about parking.
“We have no on-site parking whatsoever,” Weiser replied.
He told the committee that City Hall declared that despite the lack of on-street parking and no parking space that they can make available, Schubert’s Marine will not be prohibited from obtaining a permit because of it.
Non-Flood Authority Commissioner Cedric Grant mentioned that by the time the lease for Schubert’s Marine ends in four years, the Municipal Yacht Harbor will be back. Non-Flood Authority Real Estate Consultant Al Pappalardo agreed that this development will benefit the boat repair shop.
Commissioner William Settoon asked Weiser if he would like to address an extension for the lease on Schubert’s Marine first before exploring a new business option.
“What I thought the prudent thing might be to do, in this case, is to try and get this particular operation up and running and see what revenue that produces for us,” Weiser responded. “So that going forward, we know that the business is sustainable. Right now it’s just not sustainable. We’re barely breaking even. I want my nephews to be able to earn a living.”
“But you’re willing to make this investment with just four years left on the lease?” William Settoon asked.
Weiser confirmed that he is willing to put up the money and that Schubert’s could be selling pizza within four to five months after receiving approval from the Non-Flood Authority and a city permit.
“We intend to continue to run the boatyard,” Weiser said. “That is our primary source of income, plus it’s the best boatyard in the city.”
According to Phillip Brimer, who has a restaurant background in the family, the establishment would sell Neapolitan-style pizza and by the slice. They will be sourcing local ingredients and local delivery services.
“We’re just trying to make ourselves useful in an area that’s slowly coming back,” Brimer said.
Brimer explained how the proposal also comes from getting asked by people in the community for more of a focus on food. He said their convenience store has recently dialed back on the selection of cuisine it provides, so he would like to see their business cater more to the area, especially their boating clientele.
“The Lakefront’s coming back pretty slowly,” Brimer repeated. “Once they get those marinas open, I have a feeling that’s going to open the flood doors. Business may not get back to where it was, but it will certainly be a huge boom to anybody in the area.”
The Non-Flood Authority commercial real estate committee passed a motion to begin making negotiations with Schubert’s Marine and to have their next meeting look into a primary lease with the establishment.
This article was updated at 1:17 p.m. to correct that the stated pizza restaurant space is 1,200 square feet.