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Owners of K-C’s River Stop still awaiting decision

By Staff | Dec 8, 2009

The future of K-C’s River Stop is still up in the air, but co-owner Betty Serrago feels things could be moving in the right direction.
Following the Cape Coral City Council’s first collective conversation about the city landmark Monday night, Serrago said she felt council was very receptive to her plight.
“They were really open tonight,” she said. “But I think they were split.”
Betty and Carmine Serrago’s lease on K-C’s River Stop expires in July, ending their 17-year business history with Cape Coral.
Council members discussed what is next for the sought-after property, but found themselves mixed on whether to remain faithful to the yacht club favorite or open the property up for other businesses through a request for proposal, or RFP, process.
Mayor John Sullivan said he supported K-C’s and the Serragos, but thought that the lease should be renegotiated.
“I don’t think it’s right taking an affordable spot on the water away from the residents,” he said. “We have an obligation to ordinary residents who go to the beach.”
Councilmember Bill Deile, who supported the RFP, pointed out that the Serragos’ current lease is far below market value for a waterfront location.
He praised the Serragos’ work and the eatery’s “uniqueness,” but said if they were to stay, a new agreement would have to be reached so that the Serragos and the Cape benefit.
“The lease now has some serious shortcomings to it,” Deile said.
The Serragos pay $1,000 or 7 cents on every gallon of gasoline sold, whichever is greater, under their current lease agreement.
According to Betty, the Serragos have sunk an additional $300,000 into the property, including installing gas tanks and pumps.
When word reached the regular visitors of K-C’s River Stop that the city might put the property out for bid, the Serragos collected 2,000 signatures during a petition drive in support of keeping the eatery open
Council could decide next week which route to take, but had it trouble finding a clear vision of how to proceed Monday.
Councilmember Eric Grill thought the decision should be pushed off until council returns from its winter hiatus, giving the Serragos time to make their own offer once council resumes.
The city could still go out to an RFP after the Serragos present what they feel would be their best offer. Grill said there is plenty of time for council to make its decision.
“The RFP is not going out today or tomorrow,” he said.