Bistro News: Do you want to run a restaurant?

By Patric Hedlund, TME

Homeowner Wes Rogers was irate at the Pine Mountain Club (PMCPOA) board meeting September 16. He reminded directors that in June a majority of members voted for a new bylaw to require the PMC Bistro on the Greens and the Condor Lounge to break even, and to operate without subsidy from homeowners.

Deficits in the PMC restaurant and lounge were averaging $250,000 annually in recent years, piling up to over $1.5 million in subsidies in less than a decade. Homeowners said that had to stop.

Now, Rogers said, three months later, it is clear the board did not slam on the brakes to close the restaurant and lounge until a “break-even plan can be delivered.” Instead, the board appointed an ad hoc PMC Bistro Task Force to research the losses and report back with alternative business plan options.

The deadline at first was August, then September, now October—which is why Rogers told directors they each are now on the brink of incurring personal liability for causing “harm arising from intentional conduct.”

The harm he refers to is about $21,000 a month the Bistro had formerly been losing—which would be $63,000 in losses since the bylaw passed in June if all stays the same.

Rogers said he plans to send a letter to each of the nine directors to warn them that they are now personally liable for damages (losses) to the homeowners.

But Hold On a Moment

•Staff Achieves Impressive Drop in Expenses

But meanwhile there have been changes. For one, the former PMCPOA General Manager has been replaced.

For another, the former food and beverage manager has left and staffer Ken Gardner has stepped up to work with new General Manager Karin Shulman and the Bistro staff to make immediate cost cuts.

The board’s Bistro Task Force Chair Michael Glenn said Shulman has worked closely with the staff to pare down the menu. Dinner is being served only on Fridays and Saturdays (with breakfast and lunch served through the week as usual). The team is working to cut more expenses, while offering creative, cost-effective services such as a Monday Night Football buffet in the lounge that has served about 50-60 people each Monday for the past two weeks with only three staff, Glenn explained with excitement.

“The overrun dropped nearly 50%,” Glenn said. “I would like you to advertise that the staff and the GM have instituted a $10,422 cost reduction in that cost center and I think they should be applauded for that in a two-month period of time.”

Glenn said the overrun had gone from an average of about $21,400 a month to $15,000 in July and dropped another $4,100 in August: “It is heading in the direction we want to go.”
The detailed financial reports are now online. Glenn walked through them: “In August 2017 the Bistro operating expense was $11,656,” he said, “That is a reduction of $10,442 in the monthly operating expense. This is all them, the staff, figuring this out. It isn’t the Bistro Task Force. We need to applaud them for what they are doing!”

Glenn is excited that the Task Force will be able to present options for business models to the board that will allow the POA to achieve the bylaw’s goal of zero subsidy for the year, “over the course of the year,” he said. “We are looking to make a break-even and maybe make a profit.”

Do you want to run a restaurant?

The Bistro Task Force is also running ads in The Mountain Enterprise (see page 20 “Request for Information”), in Santa Clarita and in Bakersfield to actively reach out to interested parties who may wish to contract to run the Bistro and lounge.

The ad lays out some of the structure of an agreement that would be negotiated between PMCPOA and the contractor.

“We want to see if there are people out there who may be interested,” Glenn said. “I’ve been told there are, but we need them to call us, call Karin [Shulman, at 661.242.3788] to get their names on the list so we can present this as a realistic option to the board.”

This is part of the September 29, 2017 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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