Saturday, September 08, 2007

Waterfront Market To Stay Open?

News of the Waterfront Market closing has shocked most people in Key West.

Restaurants are stunned. Residents are in mourning.

I heard rumors that Buco was throwing in the towel two weeks ago after the last Bight Board meeting. I didn't want to believe it, and I didn't want to spread the rumor. If it were true, it was bad news. But if I was wrong, it would be an awful false rumor to spread.

Now that the news is out (and I won't be the shot messenger) let me offer some hope.

Key West Chronicle has learned that a "white knight" has stepped forward and may purchase the Waterfront Market from Buco and continue its operation. Also, employees have been instructed to no longer tell people that the market is closing at the end of September.

And this makes all the sense in the world. The business is a valuable business - and Buco would be far better off selling it than simply closing its doors.

Lets hope so.

But none of this diminishes the poor sighted city plan to get every last dollar from their tenants. I have said it before on this blog: The best tenant is not necessarily the highest paying tenant.

What the city is missing in its oversimplified method of looking at tenants is the value of GOODWILL - an intangible asset. (Goodwill is a term used to reflect the fact that an ongoing business had some "intrinsic value" beyond its assets, such as the reputation the firm enjoyed with its clients, community, and customers.)

Though the Waterfront/Buco situation is more complex than has been reported (and I won't go into any further detail), the City is foolishly squandering the quality of life enjoyed by its residents - all for a few dollars more, while ignoring the value of the Waterfront Market's goodwill.

Remember, the search for a highest-paying tenant usually takes months and months. And when finally found, that tenant is unproven - and with the enormous rent, possibly unstable.

The best tenant is the tenant that adds value to the community, is viable over the long run, and is a respectable partner. That is the definition of the Waterfront Market and Buco.

Above all, best wishes and high praises to Buco. You are the best.
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18 comments:

Sally O'Boyle said...

Sorry to hear all this, EXCEPT I hope Buco sells and gets something for his years of labor and love! Whenever we had a party, we used their deli for platters, always beautiful and fresh!

On the other hand, I love watching the city shoot itself in the foot. They deserve every moment of the coming hell. Wait until property values start to be re-appraised to today's value! The city's pensions and benefits will have to be re-evaluated. After, of course, they fire all the police and firemen (they always threaten that first).

Anonymous said...

I would love to see a chain store in the spot Waterfront Market occupied. We need some new life in this stagnant town and a nice fat chain store would bring jobs and hopefully decent wages and yes, a health care plan. Quit living in the dark ages people! This town is going upscale and it is about time! We need to become more productive and give the people who live here a real chance of survival. These mom and pop outlets are just a drag on the economy and the sooner they all leave the better. My only hope is to let Key West progress into the future and if that means the little guy who has stiffled the economy for so long is gone so be it. You still have Faustos if you want to shop at your local yokle country store. Me - give me a Whole Foods or a Trader Joes anyday. You want to be a destination but as long as you maintain the current status quo, all Key West will be thought of is Mayberry South. Get over it!

Anonymous said...

Re: the chain store comment. If you want a chain store GO TO MIAMI. When will people such as yourself get a clue that if we wanted to be like Miami we would live in Miami. Your comment makes no sense at all since most small retailers have always paid higher salaries than the chain stores. Just look at all of the recent problems with WalMart regarding wages, benefits, etc. You are living in the dark ages if you think putting a chain store on the waterfront would benefit Key West one little bit. We are already losing much of the originality and character that made Key West what it is today. As for the greedy city managers. Get a clue!! Cayo Dave was right on with his previous post. A GOOD tenant is not necc the tenant who pays the highest rent. We have enough of the sleazy t-shirt shops and overpriced condos to last a life time.

Cayo Dave said...

To the previous anonymous commenter:
If Waterfront closes, a Whole Foods or Trader Joes might be a good substitute. We'd be lucky to have it - but they would likely not be able to survive here with our slow season. Those are very expensive grocers to run and require heavy traffic.
Beyond that, I could not disagree with your comments more.
It sounds like you don't like Key West very much - and I can't imagine why you moved here.
My guess is your whole comment is disingenuous and reeks or the Citizen's Voice sabotage crowd (people who call in and purposefully put in the most inflaming comment in an effort to see how many people they can lure into a fight).
But if you meant it, all I can say is, you will not be missed.
Oh, and suck it.
The very fabric of our culture is the little guy.
What if a WalMart moved in to the space? Is that what you call a decent wage?

Anonymous said...

I agree with the poster that we need chain stores here. We need to survive in this declining economy. Look around, the island has been dead for months. Where are the tourists? They sure aren't coming here. And why would anyone miss the mom-n-pop places on Duval Street with the crap t-shirts and bongs? Not me. Lets make this a family town everyone can appreciate. And those big retailers have been given a bad rap; they do offer decent salaries at better than minimum wage, paid time off, holidays, vacation leave, sick leave, health care, pensions plans like 401K, even a cost of living increase per year. Do any of the rinky dink mom-n-pop places off that? None that I have ever seen or worked at. If you don't like progress, move to Central America and become an ex patriot. I would welcome a change of pace and lets not forget that unless you are an inbred Conch, this island has been changing for years. Miami it isn't and for those who are trying to compare it to such a city you must not have been there recently. Guess you need to get off the rock and out into the REAL WORLD once in a while!!

Anonymous said...

Waterfront Market didn't last because even in hard time like today locals don't shop there. Oh sure, the newbies might but the real locals, the Conchs, never show. We shop at Winn Dixie, the old favorite, and Faustos if we must but NEVER at Waterfront Market. Take a good long look at what shops and stores really last in this town and you will see that where there are Conchs there is a lasting business. It is the Conchs that drive this town and their old money, lasting ways and lifelong friendships and relatives really run this town.

Anonymous said...

The city should be looking at how cities like Seattle have preserved a part of their historic waterfront market--seafood shops, grocery stands, etc.--and have avoided squeezing them out by insisting on highest-and-best use and "market" rents. These places are tremendous tourist attractions as well as community resources. A functioning historic seafront marketplace is a much greater tourist draw in the bigger scheme of things than a Vandenberg because it serves to anchor (no pun intended) a real community. Re the earlier comment that conchs don't shop at Waterfront....you must be kidding!! And conchs don't eat at Michael's and Antonia's and the other restaurants depending on Waterfront??? Get real. We're all going to lose on the disappearance of Waterfront Market.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree that Conchs don't shop at Waterfront Market, frequent Antonias, Michaels, Louie's Backyard or Sloppy Joes and Hogs Breath. They eat at Pepes, shop at 5 Brothers or spend their money wisely away from the 'tourist' and 'upscale' elitist placeson the island. The five, six and seven genration Conchs know the score and stay away in droves from the over priced and yuppie establishments that have cropped up on this island in the past 20 years. They know the score and know that they will be here long after these places have come and gone. That is a fact of life - you aren't gonna change this island while the Conchs are in control.
As for a waterfrnt similar to Seattle or Baltimore or wherever, perhaps the writer should move there. I hate when newbies come to Key West and try to change it to some vision they have or try to copy another area to fit our destination. Love it or leave it - we ain't changing for you. Remember - it is the Conchs that run this town so get over it or get moving.

Anonymous said...

Maybe a Target, or better yet, a Wal-Mart would move into Waterfront Market's spot? Then we would have an option to all of the local scores that charge us up the rear-end for goods because there's no real competition in Key West.

Anonymous said...

A Target or a WalMart can't come here because KMart has it in their agreement with Monroe County to be the only box store like it around. How about a Red Lobster or Olive Garden or Chi-Chi's? A CHAIN restaurant to appeal to the masses. Or better yet, lets just dump all the trashy mom-and-pop stores on Duval and make it one huge strip mall full of nail salons, vet clinics and Chinese restaurants just like up north?!

keywestbob - ILLINOIS said...

My wife and I are yearly visitors to Key West and have been since 1995. We spend 2 weeks to a month there and shop at Waterfront as it is close by and we enjoy their fresh seafood. While their pricing might slightly be higher than Winn-Dixie (we do shop there also)we really enjoyed Waterfront and morn its closing. For some time I have felt that Key West has lost what it used to be. So sad, but so true.

A few have screwed it up for so many. maybe it should be turned into a HUGE TEE-SHIRT Shop?

Cayo Dave said...

Key West Bob - yes, its a huge bummer if the Waterfront Market closes.
Latest news is that the Waterfront Market has been given another 90 days.
A new buyer has supposedly appeared, and the City of Key West is being flexible in letting Buco figure out what to do.
Stay tuned.

Anonymous said...

Re the earlier comment about "newbies trying to change Key West"....Key West is changing all the time. It always has, since 1822, always will. So-called newbies have been coming here since forever. The question is: what kind of waterfront (or old town, or city, or whatever) do you/we want? Are there other models out there that work and that fit your vision and wishes? Instead of being reactive to the closing of a store or a single event, maybe Key West could look to see what other cities like Seattle or Providence have done to rejuvenate their harbors...what they have done? Or do we not want to look around and learn from others??

Anonymous said...

I could care less if the close or not. I will still shop at Faustos and the chains on North Roosevelt. We need to keep up with the times people! Whole Foods is the way to go - that and Trader Joe's...get your head outta the sand and realize there is a WORLD out there off this island and we need to keep up with the times or be left far behind. CHAIN STORES ARE THE ONLY WAY TO GO!!!

Cayo Dave said...

I just gotta add, to the previous anonymous commenter: I can't believe that someone with the capacity to comment on a blog would also believe "CHAIN STORES ARE THE ONLY WAY TO GO!!!".
As Ms. Albury said to someone who recommended she paint her house, "Why don't you beautify America and drop dead". lol. She was lightning!

Anonymous said...

I think a reduction in square footage would be a solution to keep the present situation and with that vacated footage an adult video store could open which in Key West would thrive nicely. As to a chain store who needs chains in Key West where it has never snowed in its history and prisoners are no longer held in hains. I like this chronicle. Post some more restaurant comments. The other evening we were shown a table at Manga Manga and the homeless appearing (ragged and unshaven) man leading us blurted out 'fuck' several times. I am curious if this is a regular employee or just what. My wife and I asked for a did not recieve an apology. We have not been back since and now go other places, actually better. Lastly, my article about Tavern&Town closing and going out of business has come true. Now they have a new struggle there. The place has no character, personality or atmosphere, period. Norman Van Aiken belongs in Miami where he can blend in, not here in Key West.

Mark said...

I know this has been a dead issue for a couple years but I just noticed it so bite me. I worked at Waterfront a couple times for that nutjob, skinflint Buco and I can tell you his employees didn't lose a great deal. He doesn't pay enough to exist on in Key West. I knew one cashier who slept in his car because he couldn't afford rent anywhere. I finally left for greener pastures even though I liked my job there. Buco is a cheap, nutty goon who I am not at all suprised won't pay a rent increase.

Cayo Dave said...

Mark,
I totally disagree with your assessment of Buco. He is, in my opinion, a terrific person.
Though I haven't worked for him, I know of no one, including many former employees, who have anything bad to say about the man.
Then again, I'm a bit of a nutty goon myself.