Visitors to the New Port Richey Recreation and Aquatics Center soon will be able to buy some Chick-fil-A sandwiches and other fare.
Alex Clark, owner of the Chick-fil-A franchise at the Gulf View Square mall in Port Richey, has agreed to operate the concession stand at the city recreation facility, 6630 Van Buren St. The city will collect 10 percent of net sales.
If the test project this summer goes well, Chick-fil-A could extend the agreement, said city parks and recreation director Elaine Smith.
The concession stand, which cost $35,000 to $40,000 to build, has sat empty much of the time since the $14 million recreation and pool complex opened its doors in 2007, according to Mayor Bob Consalvo.
In the past, a swim team or basketball league has operated the concession stand in hopes of raising money from sales proceeds. Teams were not interested this year, however, Smith said.
The recreation center sought out concession operators four times during the past several years, but those requests for proposals attracted little or no response, Smith said.
In March, Clark submitted a letter outlining the Chick-fil-A plan. The concession would open in late May or early June as area schools begin summer vacations. Chick-fil-A would continue offering its fare until classes resume for the fall semester in early August.
Chick-fil-A will be open a minimum of five hours a day, from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, Clark wrote. According to corporate policy, Chick-fil-A restaurants are closed on Sundays.
Clark added that Chick-fil-A would be willing to play host to large swim meets, special events and private parties.
The city must decide what sort of Chick-fil-A signs would be appropriate for the recreation center, Smith said.
The city also would not allow visitors to bring food and drinks inside the facility, Smith said. The ban on coolers would not apply Sundays, which will be promoted instead as Family Picnic Day.
The recreation center would allow private pool party renters to bring food and drinks from outside if the parties are after normal operating hours. Birthday cakes would be allowed in the facility at all times.
During the test period, Chick-fil-A workers will import food for the concession stand from the restaurant at the mall, Smith said.
If the arrangement continues next year, Clark might add food preparation equipment at the stand.