Popularly patronized seafood restaurant Morgan Creek Grill announced Nov. 5 that it's closing its doors until further notice. The business disclosed the closure via its Facebook page.
"We apologize for any inconvenience due to our closing. Thank you for your patronage and support," the post read.
The award-winning restaurant has provided food and beverage hospitality at Isle of Palms Marina since 2002. Although their current lease with the city isn't set to expire until Oct. 31, 2020 the restaurant has opted to shutdown indefinitely with nearly a year of service still on the table.
Employee Susan Geddings, a lead server who's worked there for more than 12 years, told the Moultrie News she received a one-day notice. She said she got a phone call on Monday, Nov. 4 from the general manager before her Tuesday shift.
"I thought I deserved a little heads up," Geddings said.
In September 2018, Isle of Palms City Council unanimously rejected the restaurant’s proposed lease extension and favored an RFP (request for proposal) to reopen bidding. The restaurant's proposal consisted of a 15-year triple net lease with an option to extend it to 33 years.
The reasoning for the city's rejection was because the restaurant's lease and the zoning code are not aligned, according to city administrator Desiree Fragoso at the Special City Council Meeting on Nov. 7.
However, no other tenants at the marina had to be subjected to an RFP to extend or amend their leases. The RFP specifies only a restaurant-type establishment can be bid for the property where Morgan Creek Grill lies now. No other type of business establishment can be used for the space, according to city's procurement code.
Leading up to council's decision, Morgan Creek Grill drafted a petition island-wide to renew the restaurant’s lease. This petition received more than 1,700 signatures in over a week. More than one-third of the island's population.
Council’s rationale at the time of the vote was that the restaurant’s fair market value is long overdue for an assessment and feel it’s in the city’s best economic interest.
Morgan Creek Grill’s average annual rent since Fiscal Year 2007 is $120,000. The restaurant's average annual net income is $106,000, according to Fragoso. These revenues are from the Isle of Palms Marina and don't include the tourist funds generated.
In total revenue after taxes, Morgan Creek Grill has generated approximately $285,000 annually. This is nearly 50% of all Isle of Palms Marina revenues, according to the city’s treasury in 2018.
Council went into Executive Session on Nov. 7 to discuss the proposals received for the "Isle of Palms Marina Restaurant" in the probable succession of Morgan Creek Grill.
The city will host a public forum either the first or second week in January to gauge residents input for the future of the restaurant's site and the rest of the properties on IOP Marina.
Morgan Creek Grill owner Jay Clarke declined comment until he's able to meet with the city's staff and attorneys.