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Golf course restaurant operator says he's finished
July 28, 2011 Jerry Purvis   
The operator of Mulligan’s Bluff Restaurant at Gering’s Monument Shadows Golf Course said he’s not renewing his lease with the city and is considering legal action.

An angry Rich Klein told members of Gering’s Parks and Recreation Committee during a Monday meeting that failed infrastructure at the facility had cost him thousands of dollars and repeated requests to the city to address the problem went unheeded. He plans to consult an attorney concerning the failed infrastructure.

The restaurant was forced to close for five days last week during its peak customer season do to the failure of one of the facility’s three air conditioning units. A similar three-day closure happened earlier this spring.

Klein told the committee the malfunctioning heating, air conditioning, electrical and exhaust system had him working in a kitchen that was either too hot or freezing. That made the restaurant uncomfortable for customers, which caused him to lose two class reunion gatherings during Oregon Trail Days.

Klein said he communicated the problems to Parks and Recreation Director Ron Ernst, but they were not passed along to council members. Before walking out of the meeting, he was especially critical of Ernst for “making me suffer over the last four years.”

Gering Mayor Ed Mayo said he had assumed the problems had been addressed, but apparently they hadn’t. He’s currently investigating the problem to see what be done.

During the committee meeting, Klein said when his lease expires on Oct. 31, 2011, he won’t renew. Mayo said if that happens, the city will probably ask for proposals to find a new operator.
“Keeping an operator in the restaurant has been a struggle going back to the days when I was on the council,” he added.

Committee member Rebecca Shields said the city is going to do all it can to remedy the problems. “This is the first time as a committee it was brought to our attention that there were so many problems with the facility.

Shields said Klein has been working with a number of air conditioning contractors when problems arose. “Maybe each time they thought the problem was fixed, so it never came to the committee’s attention,” she said. “Problems don’t necessarily have to come to our attention.
Someone is hired to fix the problem and we assume the work gets done. But some of us didn’t realize things were so bad out there.”

The committee made a recommendation for an emergency item to be placed on the agenda for Monday’s meeting of the full council. Members approved a $10,000 purchase of a new air conditioning unit to replace the one that no longer works. They also approved a $3,000 maintenance contract with CST Mechanical for quarterly inspections of the units over the next year. The remaining two units, which are still operating but not at full capacity, will be replaced as part of the city’s regular budget process.

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