NewsPalm Beach CountyRegion C Palm Beach CountyLake Worth Beach

Actions

Lake Worth Beach commissioners approve new lease for Benny's on the Beach

Restaurant was in danger of closing after commissioners voted in April not to extend lease
Posted at 6:59 PM, May 10, 2023

LAKE WORTH BEACH, Fla. — A favorite beachside restaurant in Palm Beach County will continue to be in business for at least the next decade.

Lake Worth Beach commissioners on Wednesday approved a 10-year deal to save Benny's on the Beach, which was in danger of closing after being around since 1986.

The measure passed 4-1 with Commissioner Christopher McVoy opposing the amendment. On April 19, the commissioners voted 3-2 against the restaurant’s lease extension request with opposition by McVoy, Kim Stokes and Reinaldo Diaz.

With the new agreement, the restaurant owner said they will be paying 65% more on average throughout the lease and by the end will be paying double.

The increase is an effort by the city to bring the restaurant up to fair market value.

Benny's on the Beach owner Lee Lipton shares his thoughts on the new lease approved by Lake Worth Beach commissioners May 10, 2023.
Benny's on the Beach owner Lee Lipton shares his thoughts on the new lease approved by Lake Worth Beach commissioners May 10, 2023.

"How do you plan on celebrating today?" WPTV Reporter Joel Lopez asked Benny's on the Beach owner Lee Lipton.
 
"Being with the staff and enjoying my time with them," Lipton said.
 
Lipton said the victory is for the restaurant's supporters and Benny's 200-plus staff.

One of whom is server Danica Bird who said 100% of her income comes from Benny's on the Beach.

 “As a mom and financially to look at that as going away so quickly was definitely not fun, not something I was looking forward to," Bird said.
 
Lopez asked: "Now how do you feel?"

"I feel amazing!” Bird said

Other Lake Worth Beach residents like Mary Anne Sullivan said commissioners should have done more for the location.

"I just feel that we should have been able to look at all the different offers instead of going with one person who has been on that particular beach," Sullivan said. “Anybody that goes on the pier is going to make money but what’s important is how much money we are giving back to the city. The money on that pier, fix the pool, could help the Gulfstream Hotel."

The next step now is how to allocate money back into maintaining and repairing the beachside building.

With the new proposal, Benny’s will see a yearly rent increase and by year three will be on par with what Casino tenants are currently paying.

"That is where a bit of the holdup is," Diaz, who is Lake Worth Beach's District 4 commissioner, said. "We're looking for the data, we're looking for the numbers what should this number be so that one Benny's has a place in our community but also we as a municipality are able to cover our bills specifically our maintenance bills."
 
The amendment provides for an increase in rent as follows:

For year 1, the tenant shall pay rent, including the patio area, $20,910.00 per month from Feb. 11, 2023, through May 11. For the remainder of year 1, from May 12 through Feb. 10, 2024, the tenant shall pay $44 per square foot for the premises, as defined in the lease, and $15.30 per square foot for the patio area as defined in the first amendment to the lease.

For year 2, from Feb. 11, 2024, through Feb. 10, 2025, the tenant shall pay $47 per square foot for the premises and $15.84 per square foot for the patio area.

For year 3, from Feb. 11, 2025, through Feb. 10, 2026, the tenant shall pay $50.35 per square foot for the premises and $16.39 per square foot for the patio area.

For years 4-9, plus 11 months of the extension, the rent for the premises and the patio area shall increase by 3.5% per year beginning on Feb. 11 of each year.