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Palm Beach Post (Florida)
By Kevin D. Thompson Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

For years, the village has been trying to figure out how to make the Mess Hall Cafe in Veterans Park a success.

Past vendors, village officials said, have not done a good job promoting it. The last vendor, Victor Kuncle, died in January. The cafe has been vacant since.

The village toyed with the idea of installing vending machines, but many residents weren't too keen on that.

So the village began spreading the word it was looking for another vendor.

After reading a story in The Palm Beach Post in February about the cafe and residents' concern about the park's decline, Councilman David Swift said three vendors approached the village about running it.

At the time, Parks and Recreation Director Lou Recchio said the village had a "number of interested" inquiries.

Those inquiries, however, led to only one proposal from Peter Torocsik, owner of Ultimate Bakery and Pastry.

Last week, the council unanimously voted to award Torocsik's company with a three-year contract starting May 1. Torocsik didn't attend the meeting and wasn't available for comment.

The contract might be renewed by one- or two-year terms upon written agreement by both parties.

Lease payments are based on annual gross sales -- 2 percent the first year; 3 percent for the second and 4 percent for the third year of the agreement. Torocsik also will pay a monthly utility bill.

Recchio said he wasn't surprised by the timid response to the village's request for another food and beverage vendor at the park.

"We've bid this out three or four times before and we always get the same response," he said. "Vendors are afraid because they don't know what kind of clientele they're going to have."

In his proposal, Torocsik wrote he has run similar operations for the Broward County Sheriff's Office and Fort Lauderdale Police Department cafeterias.

Included on the menu are grilled meat sandwiches, breakfast combos, fresh fruits, pizzas, homemade pastries, ice creams, shakes and juices.

"He seems to be willing to make it work," Recchio said. "We told him this is not a restaurant, it's a concession business. People want fast food and to grab a cup of coffee."

Recchio noted how there are no bakeries in the village, unless residents go to Publix.

"I think people are going to love it," Recchio said.

Councilman Jeff Hmara said a good vendor will only increase traffic at the park.

Torocsik, a baker by trade, has indicated how he will reach out to the community by taking part in special events and handing out food packages to help promote the cafe.

Recchio said that's something previous vendors haven't done.

Torocsik even said he would be interested in running a snack bar at Commons Park. But his contract is strictly for running the cafe at Veterans Park.

The council said it was impressed with Torocsik's credentials.

"I really would like to see that place do well," Swift said. Twitter: @KevinDThompson1


April 21, 2014




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