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UPDATE: Alfin Pulls Out of Interview with Green Lion

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The below article described an interview that was to take place between Palm Coast Mayor David Alfin and Green Lion Café owner Chris Marlow. It should now be noted that Alfin has pulled out of the interview. The reasoning provided by the city of Palm Coast is that a letter from the Green Lion’s attorney has caused the need to review the situation, making Friday’s scheduled interview date untenable.

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“We will not go quietly.” This was the most recent statement by the Green Lion Café as of Wednesday afternoon. This promise will now been followed up on.

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Palm Coast Mayor David Alfin has agreed to sit down for a radio conversation with Chris Marlow, co-owner of the Green Lion Café. It’s the first at-length conversation between the two parties since the beginning of an extended negotiation process which has been contentious at best and vitriolic at worst.

The conversation will air live at 9:00 am on Friday, July 1st. It can be tuned into on 93.5 FM, 1150 AM, or via web at newsdaytonabeach.com. It will take up the first half hour of Good Day Daytona, a weekday morning news show hosted by WNDB’s Trei Johnson (Writer’s Note from Chris Gollon: I myself will be a part of the discussion as a WNDB reporter).

One of Marlow’s chief criticisms of the Palm Coast city government has been communication. The Marlow family and their associates have described being told about developments in the process at the last second, including that their restaurant’s fate would be discussed at the June 21st Council meeting. “You emailed me [at] ten o’clock on a Friday night asking for my financials,” Tony Marlow snapped at City Manager Denise Bevan that morning. “Which you have no right to do.”

Chris Marlow objected during the meeting to being confined into one three minute public comment slot to plead his case, versus longer presentations for other parties during that meeting. On Friday he will enjoy at least a 30 minute block of time to air his grievances.

Marlow and his family own the Green Lion and Golden Lion cafes, both well-known and popular establishments in Flagler County cuisine. For the Green Lion, they were given a lucrative offer in 2017 by the Palm Coast government to open up in a restaurant building adjacent to thePalm Harbor golf course, at the time a strained amenity.

The City Council raised objections to their deal in 2022, with critics calling it ‘a sweetheart deal’ and accusing the Marlow family of taking advantage of taxpayer funds. The family came to a City Council meeting in February in which their deal was in danger of being axed. They were joined by dozens of employees and community members who chastised the Council for jeopardizing the Green Lion, leading to a decision to go back to the negotiating table.

Come June, the negotiations crumbled and the Green Lion was once again put at risk of being ousted. Nowhere near as big a crowd assembled this time, potentially as a result of the short notice that Tony Marlow bemoaned. The Council voted to approve an ultimatum with the family: agree to terms by July 1st, or see their location put out to bid.

The discrepancies between the two parties amount to factors like monthly cost per square foot and who pays for each utility. The city wants the restaurant to split the water bill with them; the Marlows contend that the city uses that water line for purposes that have nothing to do with the restaurant.

Alfin and Marlow will have their conversation with hours remaining in the period for a deal to be reached. It’s still to be seen what effect, if any, the chat will have on the final stages of negotiation. It will, however, mark the first time both parties are given the opportunity to make their case transparently before the public.

“Palm Coast Council is deliberately extorting our family,” the Marlows said in a post to the Green Lion’s Facebook. “They have been trying to throw us out for the past year and we have the emails to prove it – they aren’t worried about taxpayers. They have spent endless amounts of taxpayers money on the trailer concession agreement. what is their agenda?”

The majority of commenters on social media have shown support to the Green Lion, sometimes accompanied with derision for the City Council.

Written By

Chris Gollon is a Flagler County resident since 2004, as well as a staple of the local independent music scene and avid observer of Central Florida politics, arts, and recreation.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Kathy Leggett

    June 30, 2022 at 7:53 am

    Palm Coast needs to leave the Green Lion alone! This feels like Palm Coast already has another bid in mind. The Green Lion is well loved by many and we will stand up for them as well. You should be happy they even want to be in your city! Leave them alone! We have enough issues in our world today without your ridiculous city government getting involved trying to harass a business owner!

  2. TR

    July 1, 2022 at 6:46 am

    Alfin doesn’t have any integrity and he will not overrule anyone. He called off this radio conversation because he was afraid he would say something he shouldn’t and let the cat out of the bag on why the city is doing what they are doing to this small business. It just goes to show that Alfin and the rest of the council don’t care one ioda about any small business in Palm Coast. They want the owners of the Green Lion out so someone they know can move in.(jmo) I hope that if that happens Karma stricks hard and then Alfin and the rest of the council can put salt on the crow they will be eating.

  3. John Parkes

    July 1, 2022 at 10:42 am

    One of the long time and loudest criticisms I heard about this town is that Palm Coast is NOT business friendly. This has always been denied by the local politicians, especially around election time, but the present Green Lion situation is an absolutely embarrassing testament to support that very criticism.

    The Green Lion was instrumental in saving the city from over a $ 300,000 annual loss in running their municipal golf course over five years ago to what last year was a profitable venture. The city actually approached the Golden Lion owners to help them out ( of the losing venture they were in) and take over the closed food service at this venue. It was an out of the way location with the triple trailer building in deplorable condition and certainly a high financial risk venture. Where no others would dare to tread, the Green Lion stepped in and after a lot of Green Lion work and money helped to turn the golf course property into a PROFITABLE venture for both themselves and the city.

    I have been in the financial services field for over 40 years and have learned to follow the money. If one follows the money, in this case, there is justification to claim that Palm Coast has saved the City well over $1,000,000 cumulative in taxpayer money over the status quo from five years ago! (Let that sink in). Partnering with the Green Lion proved to be a financial windfall for the tax payers of Palm Coast.

    How does Palm Coast thank their business partner after this remarkable turnaround? Come lease renewal time they discredit them, dragging their name through the mud, accusing them of having a ‘sweetheart” lease agreement and saying they are robbing the taxpayers. (Let that sink in. Remember that $ 1,000,000 figure). Some very not-nice words were used by some of our council people concerning the Green Lion lease situation. They even passed a motion to terminate their agreement with The Green Lion and open the bidding to other companies to come run that restaurant.

    After an outflow of negative press and an overflow of public support at a public meeting for the Green Lion the city council backed off that position. They said they would return to the table to negotiate a new lease agreement with the Green Lion.

    Now fast forward to current. In the darkness of night (literally) this week the City summons Green Lion to a council meeting with only 12 hour notice. Where is it business protocol to call a businessman at 10:30 on a Friday night demanding his business records? At the quickie unannounced meeting a heated exchange occurs and people are cut off from speaking after the council-imposed 3 minute time limit, even though previous groups were allowed to exceed that limit. And, our Palm Coast Council, has now redefined the term “negotiate”. To them it means using their beer muscles to force an agreement down the throat of a business “partner” with the evil threat of ending their business unless they don’t capitulate and agree. This is a far cry from the dictionary definition of “resolve an issue in a way that both parties find acceptable”.

    We now are on a 10-day cooling off period wisely called by Mayor Alfin. However, I do find fault with his including that the Green Lion MUST agree to the terms of a new lease period as outlined by the council or we return to square one, with the current lease being terminated and bidding to go out for a new restaurant to run the facility. Mr. Mayor, negotiations don’t get imposed from the seat of a Dias ……. especially when dealing with a business “partner”.

    A few lessons in life that I learned as a very young child come to mind currently. They are:

    Don’t kill the goose that lays the golden eggs!
    Don’t bite the hand that feeds you!
    Don’t poke the bear ……….and the bear being WE the PEOPLE.

    One more question ……. The Council knew that WE the PEOPLE were extremely interested in this situation. Why were WE not notified of this meeting in a prominent way?

    John Parkes
    Palm Coast property owner

    P.S. to the Palm Coast City Council: If I were Tony or Chris Marlow I would tell you to “stuff it”……. and let the chips fall where they may. YOU NEED THEM …….. THEY DON’t NEED YOU!

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