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Reopening on hold as problems plague ‘new’ Seaside Grill


One year after the old Seaside Grill served its last burger, the only thing coming out of the iconic Jaycee Park eatery that’s rare these days is good news for islanders waiting for a reopening date.

New Seaside owners Andy Studebaker and Wiley Wong (AG Ventures), who originally expected to reopen the restaurant last fall following a planned $100,000 renovation of the aging building, have encountered one surprise problem after another.

First they discovered the kitchen’s 30-year-old commercial hood would need to be completely replaced; then they ran into issues with the roof; further exploration uncovered more complicated roof issues, requiring special permits.

Meanwhile, Studebaker and Wong were paying the City of Vero Beach –the building’s owner – $8,000 per month as detailed in their 10-year lease (with 20 years of renewal options).

But in January, Studebaker and Wong requested and were granted by the City Council a three-month rent deferral as the permitting process dragged on and new roof structure problems were revealed.

And as the initial rent deferral period came to an end, City Manager Monte Falls requested that Studebaker and Wong provide the City Council with a project update at its April 18 meeting. 

“Initially,” Studebaker told the council,  “we had local contractors. It seemed straightforward at the time.” He then reviewed how the roof issues had snowballed, to the point that an entire new roof was required, including having to remove a section of roof entirely and install a sturdier section to support the new hood.

All of this meant more architects, engineers, plans, permits and time, Studebaker said.

The council appeared sympathetic to their plight.

“Nothing has been their fault,” said Councilman Rey Neville.

“Let’s not forget that they’re spending their own money to fix our building,” noted Councilwoman Linda Moore.

Later, on a motion by Moore, the council voted 4-1 to forgive the rent until the Seaside Grill is finally able to reopen for business.

Councilman John Carroll pressed Studebaker to give his best estimate of how long it might be, after the remaining permit(s) are issued, until the work could be completed and the Seaside is back open for breakfast and lunch.  “30-40 days?” he suggested. “Two months?”

“Could be,” Studebaker said, reluctant to commit to a new date. “If nothing else happens. We’re open when we’re open. We hear the questions. We see the Facebook comments. We want to be open as quick as anyone else. We want to be something the community can be proud of.”

AG Ventures  operates several successful businesses, currently including The Nest Eatery at Osprey Point in Boca Raton and the Okeechobee Grill in West Palm Beach as well as restaurants at two South Florida golf courses.  With staff able to handle their other ventures day-to-day, the pair plan to operate The Seaside Grill themselves.

Until that day, a local nonprofit, The Source, continues to operate one of its two food trucks in the Jaycee Park parking lot, just steps from the Seaside. Dedicated to “changing the face of homelessness” by providing job training for homeless individuals, enabling them to “rejoin the community,” The Source welcomes park/beachgoers with its brightly painted truck, canopy tent and chairs, fresh cooked food and drinks  7 days a week, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.