The Newport Beach Restaurant Association Business Improvement District Board of Directors held its first meeting of fiscal year 2014-2015 this week at the Newport Beach & Co. offices in Newport Center.
The lengthy agenda included election of officers, membership updates, financial reports, annual marketing agreements, the Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival partnership, a BID marketing report, and discussions of the 2015 Restaurant Week event.
For the first item of business, Jim Walker (Bungalow Restaurant) was reelected President, Sheri Drewry (Wilma’s Patio) was reelected Vice President, Thomas Giulioni (Back Bay Bistro) was elected Treasurer, and Alexandra Robinson (Park Avenue Café) was elected Secretary.
Other board members for 2014-2015 include John Robinson (Amelia’s Seafood & Italian Restaurant), Cindy O’Shea (Whole Foods Market), Dan Miller (The Village Inn), Joe Campbell (Ruby’s Diner), Ronald Schwartz (Muldoon’s Irish Pub), and Stephen Joyce (Newport Beach Tennis Club). There is also one open board position.
During a discussion of the BID assessment fees, Walker suggested they needed to redefine who qualifies to be part of the Restaurant Association.
“Do convenience stores qualify, and do private clubs qualify,” wondered Walker. “It’s to the benefit of the restaurant association to redefine who our members should be, and also look at our BID fee structure. It is based on the number of employees, but some establishments claim they have 10 employees when they have 50. Our fees have been dormant for the past five years.”
Walker suggested the creation of an advisory committee comprised of four board members to work on those issues and come back to the board with recommendations, which in turn will be given to the City Council so that the next BID billing cycle would include the new fee structure and definition of BID membership.
The current financial reports were reviewed and discussed. The profit and loss budget versus actual (accrual basis) from July 2013 to June 2014 showed a net profit of $50,824.14, but Walker cautioned that they were anticipating more expenses during the coming year, but hopefully a new BID fee structure and sponsorship opportunities would make up the difference.
The Board reviewed a marketing services proposal from Newport Beach & Co. to provide comprehensive marketing and public relations plans and the resources to implement those plans as needed. The Board recommended that the City of Newport Beach enter into an agreement with Newport Beach & Co. for those services, which is budgeted at $60,000 per year. Polly Peak from Newport Beach & Co. is the consultant who will be working directly with the Restaurant BID.
The Board also approved a partnership agreement with NewBe productions for a cross-promotional sponsorship for the upcoming Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival to be held this September.
Peak provided a marketing update, including new branding for Dine Newport Beach and a new DineNB.com website that’s scheduled to launch in mid-August.
The final bit of business was a discussion of the annual Newport Beach Restaurant Week, which occurs every January.
Fees for restaurant participation, costs for lunch and dinner, and length of Restaurant Week were debated. Peak recommended expanding Restaurant Week from its current 10 days to a full two weeks, and establishing a new fee structure for restaurants to participate.
The board appointed a four member advisory group to work with Newport Beach & Co. on options and return to the board with recommendations.
The board also agreed to terminate its relationship with McFarlane Promotions, a San Diego-based PR and event company that was hired to help promote the 2014 Restaurant Week.
“What you’re doing is an integral part to the success of Newport Beach,” commented Mayor Rush Hill, who attended the meeting. “We don’t have a downtown, we have all these uniquenesses, and that’s true of the restaurants. You are part of our lifestyle, and we are selling a lifestyle.”