Nova Scotia

Halifax waterfront tender for beer garden site closes today

The tender to operate food and beverage services at a part of the Halifax waterfront that was home to Stillwell's beer garden this year closes Friday.

Last summer's pilot project was proposed and operated by Stillwell at the Summit amphitheatre

Stillwell Bar co-owner Chris Reynolds says his group will be submitting a proposal again this year to operate a food and beverage service on the Halifax waterfront. (Stillwell/Twitter)

The tender to operate food and beverage services along a section of the Halifax waterfront that was home to a beer garden earlier this year closes Friday.

This summer's beer garden pilot project was proposed and operated by Stillwell Bar at the Summit amphitheatre.

The project was deemed a success, so the Waterfront Development Corporation issued a tender to find an operator for the site for three years, with a minimum opening window of May 15 to Oct. 15.

Interest in the tender has been strong, says Jennifer Angel, the waterfront corporation's vice-president of operations and marketing. She wouldn't say how many people or companies have bid.

Stillwell is again submitting a proposal, but is keeping the details of its plans close to its chest.

"It's a competitive type of bid, so we don't want to show our cards necessarily at this point," said co-owner Chris Reynolds.

"I think we're probably already up against a lot of folks who were, let's say, inspired by our efforts down there and so we'd rather not give them any more help."

Reynolds says launching the summer beer garden was a lot of work, but in the end Stillwell was really pleased with the results.

'Big risk and a lot of work'

"It was very challenging to try to come up with a business plan that would make sense for a business that would last for four months," Reynolds said.

"We had no guarantees at all about going forward after that pilot year. So it was a big risk and a lot of work."

Chris Tzaneteas, the owner of the Argyle Bar and Grill, also plans to submit a bid. He didn't want to tip his hand about some of the ideas he has in mind for the site.

He's hoping the tender process is a fair one, but has some concerns about how it has been conducted to date. Tzaneteas is unhappy there was only a 16-day window between when the tender was issued and today's closing date.

"It's a little quick. You need a little more time," he said.

Angel says a tender only needs to be open for 15 days.

Tzaneteas also says he has been trying to get answers about whether there would be other opportunities for unsuccessful bidders.

"Absolutely, we would explore other opportunities," said Angel.

The development corporation says it will select an operator by Dec. 18 and hopes to have an agreement in place by Jan. 15, 2016.