Camillo Awards “Griff” Golf Course Restaurant Concession to Deli Despite Being #2 Scorer on RFP

In December the Town of Greenwich Purchasing Department, on behalf of Parks & Recreation, issued an RFP seeking proposals from to operate the restaurant at the town golf course, the Griffith E. Harris Golf Course.

Located on King Street, “The Griff” has approximately 2500 golf course members and 35,000 to 40,000 rounds of golf played there annually.

The contract for the concession is for three years, starting April 1, 2024.

Signage has yet to go up at the restaurant at The Griff. April 14,2024

Caren St. Phillip, who previously ran Cobber North at the golf course, did not seek to renew her license.

The RFP process included interviews and a fairly extensive written response that included work history, experience with Greenwich and other municipalities, references, sample menus, innovative ideas, and offer for license fee offer for first three years, as well as optional two year, with a minimum of $120,000 for the first 3 years.

In response to two FOI requests, the purchasing department shared the three responses to the RFP for the Griff restaurant concession and the review committee’s scores.

Three RFP responders were 8NB Inc., Corbo’s Deli West, and Pasta Vera.

Each respondent’s proposal was reviewed and scored by a committee and assigned points out of a potential 100 points.

The Corbo’s response mentioned a plan to hire Mike Bocchino, formerly the manager at Cobber North, for a “seamless transition.”

8NB Inc. was the top ranked respondent, but the First Selectman has final review and signing authority, and Fred Camillo selected Corbo’s.

Scorers were assistant director of Parks & Rec Dan Carlsen, golf operations manager Steve Pyo and superintendent of building construction & Maintenance Luigi Romano.

Dan Carlsen: 80 points
Luigi Romano: 89 points
Steve Pyo: 80 points

Dan Carlsen: 68
Luigi Romano: 86
Steve Pyo: 63

Pasta Vera
Dan Carlsen: 61
Luigi Romano: 80
Steve Pyo: 71

Parks & Rec’s Mr. Siciliano and Mr. Carlsen conducted interviews of all three who responded to the RFP.

On Feb 5, an email from Parks & Rec director Joe Siciliano and assistant director Dan Carlsen to the purchasing department shared the scores of the three proposals, saying, “The interviews were completed, and confirmed the results of the scoring evaluation for the proposals. The results were then presented to the Office of the First Selectman for final review by the signing authority.”

Mr. Camillo then interviewed 8NB Inc and Corbo’s.

On Feb 12, First Selectman Camillo emailed purchasing and the Parks & Rec director saying he had selected Corbo’s and that they would continue the menu of Cobber North, keeping on many existing employees.

RFP materials noted the winning concessionaire would be responsible for providing all necessary equipment supplies and staff.

An addendum to the RFP said the RFP respondents could contact Caren Vizzo St. Phillip, the previous concessionaire, for the sale of her equipment and furniture.

On Sunday Ms St. Phillip said that after her decision to not re bid, she was not part of the process.

“Corbo’s did not purchase any equipment from me,” she said.

On Monday Mr. Camillo responded to a request for comment, saying in an email, “The Town is going with someone with the local experience that I believe lead to a smooth transition. Corbo’s also was keeping  a similar menu, while adding other items such as their popular pizza. People were upset when Caren decided not to renew, but were happy to hear a similar menu is coming back with a business with a long history here in town.”

Mr. Camillo said the staff, including Mike Bocchino, had also been asked to join the team of another applicant.

“The Town has a history of looking at the whole application, not just bid price,” Camillo added. “In 1991, I was part of Greenwich Recycling Company that bid on the Town recycling contract. We were outbid, but the Town went with us as we were all local guys who formed the company and also added some features that the top bidder did not. We won the contract and served the Town well for 20 years before the company was dissolved in 2011. To my knowledge, there was not one complaint in the file for the whole time.”

In an email Sunday, John Bosco from Corbo’s commented, “While we have no idea regarding specifics of other bids, we are happy to continue the tradition of a local business serving our Greenwich community, neighbors and friends.”

“We are excited for a wonderful season, we have a talented and experienced staff returning and have been open to the golfing community and public for service since April 12th with a temporary menu when we received our final inspections and certifications,” Bosco added. “We look to be fully ready with all of our menus by the beginning of May.”

8NB Inc

The top bidder for the license was 8NB Inc., (short for 8 North Broadway in Nyack, NY) with company officers including Constantine Kalandranis and Louis Cea.

Both Mr. Kalandranis and Mr. Cea both live in Greenwich.

The total licensing fee offered by 8NB was $150,000, whereas Pasta Vera’s was $124,900 and Corbo’s was $120,000.

The 8NB response said they had operated concessions at sports facilities, hosted weddings, fundraisers and all kinds of special parties and events, along with operating various restaurants and bars at multiple locations.

Innovative outdoor events included Spit Roast BBQ & Blues / Tacos, Margaritas & Markey/ Lobster Roll & Oyster Nights – some with music.

Mr. Kalandranis graduated from The Culinary Institute of America, and is also the chef/owner of The SNACK-ish Cafe, The TACO-ish Food Truck, and The GREEK-ish in both Nyack and Harrison. Also, he is the executive chef/partner and consultant to TT’sTaco/Tequila in Montauk, among others.

In Nyack, The Greekish is a full service restaurant and bar that opened in 2012. The restaurant contains 20 bar seats and 60+ table seating. The restaurant regularly employs 10-14 employees in all aspects of running a restaurant and bar. It has been recognized in the New York Times (3 stars) and heralded as the Best New Restaurant in Westchester Magazine and Hudson Valley Magazine. The Greekish also operated a sister location in Harrison, NY (40 seats) until the building was recently sold.

The SNACKish concession bar has locations in Elmsford and Ardsley.

8NB Inc has done relevant work in Greenwich food truck events at Equinox Gym, catered events at Julian Curtiss School and New Lebanon School, and BANC Raiders football.

The 8NB Inc proposal included use of their mobile food truck for quick grab and go at the first tee (Start up/Staging area) as well as service the driving range for short order needs.

Innovative outdoor events included Spit Roast BBQ & Blues / Tacos, Margaritas & Markey/ Lobster Roll & Oyster Nights – some with music.

8NB Proposed Total License fee for 3 years: $150,000

$48,000 First year: (minimum annual license fee $25,000 for 1st year)
$50,000 Second year (minimum annual license fee $40,000 for 2nd year)
$52,000 Third Year (minimum annual license fee $45,000 for 3rd year)

As of April 14 the Clubhouse at the Griff yet to open. Photo: Leslie Yager

Corbo Deli West LLC

Corbo Deli West’s officers are David Corbo and John Bosco. Both are Greenwich residents.

Their response indicated their on-site manager would be Mike Bocchino.

Their response noted they had operated multiple delis and catering establishments for over 20 years in Greenwich and Stamford, and had been highlighted on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives on The Food Network.

Their response also noted they had 20+ years of experience working in Greenwich and Stamford, providing breakfast, lunch and catering to Greenwich Public Schools, private schools as well as the Stamford Public Schools, and town of Greenwich departments including Greenwich Police Dept, Greenwich Fire Dept, GEMS and DPW. They said they had worked with athletic teams, clubs and PTA groups as well as sports travel competitions.

Their proposed innovative ideas included continuing the beverage vending machine at the first tee box and possibly adding a coffee vending machine for golfers with early tee times who arrive late but don’t have a chance to come to the restaurant.

Once or twice a month they said they would rent a trailered pizza oven to use outdoors  to serve homemade pizza.

In addition to occasional live music, they said they would host fundraisers such as a paint night, comedy night and trivia night for schools, PTAs or team building for athletic programs.

They said their competitive edge was knowing the existing customer base at the Griff.

Corbo’s Total Licensing fee to the Town for 3 years: $120,000

$35,000 First year: (minimum annual license fee $25,000 for 1st year)
$40,000 Second year (minimum annual license fee $40,000 for 2nd year)
$45,000 Third Year (minimum annual license fee $45,000 for 3rd year)

Uma, Mario and Carlos

Una Galasso, Mario Perez and Carlos Fuentes applaud their boss at Pasta Vera, Susan Della Ragione. File photo

Pasta Vera

Pasta Vera, a longtime restaurant at 48 Greenwich Avenue owned by Susan Della Ragione also bid on the Griff Golf Course concession.

Ms Della Ragione’s response said she had a competitive advantage given she had operated in Greenwich since 1986, developing a loyal base of customers, engaging in local events and supporting charities. They host events such as Italian cooking classes, and cultural nights.

Her restaurant specializes in authentic Italian cuisine and offers regularly changing specials and seasonal menus. Pasta Vera restaurant has an online presence and ordering convenience, as well as wine pairing expertise and a comprehensive wine selection.

Her innovative ideas for the Griff included hosting exclusive culinary events such as chef’s table dinners or cooking classes, possibly with wine pairings. Also, seasonal tasting menus showcasing local and seasonal ingredients.

Other ideas included a “digital loyalty system” for golf course members with discounts, rewards and special offers. Also a mobile app to pre-order meals and customize dishes to streamline the ordering process especially during peak times. And lastly, gourmet picnic baskets to enjoy on the course, and pasta making workshops, wine pairing sessions and cooking demonstrations.

Pasta Vera Total Proposed Licensing fee to the Town for 3 years: $124,900

$36,500 First year: (minimum annual license fee $25,000 for 1st year)
$41,600 Second year (minimum annual license fee $40,000 for 2nd year)
$46,800 Third Year (minimum annual license fee $45,000 for 3rd year)

Neither Mr. Kalandranis nor Ms Della Ragione responded to a request for comment.

On Facebook The Clubhouse at the Griff features images of the bar in the restaurant with a new bar top.

The Clubhouse at the Griff website says, “Coming soon.”

The Griff is located at 1323 King Street Greenwich, CT 06831.

Dining on the patio at The Griff. File photo