Colonel Sanders and his fried chicken restaurants made appearances in discussions over what’s to be done with the Cody Public Library’s Biblio Bistro.
Tuesday morning, Park County Commissioners and the Park County Library Board huddled with county attorney Bryan Skoric to edit and revise a request for proposal, or RFP, seeking to lease the space to an entrepreneur.
The plan is for the document to be finalized and posted on the county website later this week.
Bids on what could be up to a three-year lease are due Jan. 12 by 3 p.m., and proposals are scheduled to be discussed by commissioners at their Jan. 16 meeting.
A new business could be installed as soon as the end of January.
Since opening in 2009, the bistro has lost money every year, and under public pressure to address the red ink, board members opted this summer to try to lease the space.
It’s proven to be a complicated process.
The county owns the building that the bistro occupies, but it sits inside of the library and Wyoming statute gives libraries more independence from county oversight than other county departments.
Effectively, any business that rents the space will have two masters: the county to whom it will write any rent checks, and the library it will be housed inside, whose board will have a say in when the space will be open and what kind of amenities it can offer.
Since debate began over the bistro, the board and the commissioners have engaged in a number of lengthy negotiations over how to go about seeking a tenant.
That process appeared to be near completion Tuesday, with the commissioners and board members agreeing on a number of points in the 13-page draft document Park County Library System Director Frances Clymer has spent weeks crafting, with input from her board and Skoric.
Most of the commissioners’ suggestions boiled down to simplifications of the requirements.
That’s where Sanders came in. In suggesting that the RFP lower a requirement of three years in business to one, commissioner Joe Tilden said “Colonel Sanders wasn’t in the restaurant business before starting his own business.”
“Actually, he was,” commissioner Loren Grosskopf chimed in.
The commissioners wound up agreeing to drop the requirement to one year in business.
Another point of discussion centered around what to do with the bistro’s aging ice machine.
Clymer said the ice maker has broken down repeatedly in recent years, and wondered “Can we claim it’s in good serviceable order if it breaks perpetually?”
Park County Building and Grounds Supervisor Mike Garza, whose department has had to make repairs, said a broken compressor in the machine had been fixed and it is now functional. If needed, future maintenance will be provided by the renter.
Commissioner Jake Fulkerson said he thought financial information requirements were both too onerous and too vague to be useful.
“What are these people supposed to provide [in proof of solid finances] – a note from home?” he asked skeptically.
“This is somebody who wants to rent a coffee shop – we want [the selection process] to be fair, but this isn’t a $5 million dollar job,” he said later.
A walkthrough tour of the facilities, open to any interested parties, was tentatively scheduled for 10 a.m., Dec. 22.
“That gives everyone in the bistro time to make sure everything is ship shape,” Clymer said.
Interested renters can contact Nicholle Gerharter, Park County Commission executive assistant (and in her former job, 2012 Wyoming Library Association Librarian of the Year) to set up alternative times for a tour.
Gerharter has been charged with the delicate task of orchestrating logistics of the leasing process and regularly funneling information to Clymer and commission chair Lee Livingston, who was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.
After tours are conducted, bids will be due by Jan. 12, and the commissioners hope to vote on proposals Jan. 16, though Fulkerson half-joked that if it’s close, the commissioners may “have them have a cook-off – bring in brownies or something.”
“Whoever you get in here is still going to have to draw-up a contract,” Skoric said.
That contract will likely need input from both the commissioners and board as well.