At their meeting Wednesday night, Daytona Beach city commissioners will decide whether to pay an architect $36,500 to design and oversee a roof replacement of Joe's Crab Shack. The architect has estimated it will cost about $300,000 to replace all the roofing.
DAYTONA BEACH — When the historic casino building on top of the Daytona Beach Pier reopened in 2012 as Joe's Crab Shack, it was a resurrection for a structure that had undergone a two-and-a-half-year overhaul that cost around $10 million.
Despite the extensive work to restore the nearly 95-year-old wooden pier and restaurant building, about five years after the grand reopening of the iconic city landmark the roof started popping leaks.
The water intrusion got bad enough last year that the city hired Jay Ammon Architect, Inc., to do a thorough study of the roof surfaces. What the Orlando-area architectural firm found couldn't be blamed on Hurricane Matthew in 2016 nor Hurricane Irma in 2017.
Warped rubber pavers throughout the flooring of the outdoor rooftop bar are opening channels for water intrusion and creating tripping hazards, according to the architect's report completed at the end of March. The roof membrane below that walking surface has unsealed spots at the roof perimeter, and there's insufficient roof slope to allow water drainage, the report concludes.
The architects also noted that roof-mounted air-conditioning units are too close to the roof surface to allow maintenance underneath, and there's an "extensive" lack of grease traps at several exhaust vents that's allowing grease to spew onto the roof and damage it.
"Representatives of the restaurant indicated that moisture is actively intruding through several locations that are associated with the main patio deck roof," the report stated. "One location is at the main entrance to the restaurant. Interior water damage was observed on the underside of the structural wood deck of the patio roof."
At their meeting Wednesday night, city commissioners will decide whether to pay the Jay Ammon firm $36,500 to design and oversee a roof replacement of Joe's Crab Shack. The architect has estimated it will cost $296,000 to replace all the roofing, a cost that would jump to $325,000 if a 10 percent contingency of $29,000 was added.
Requests for bids from contractors could go out in a few months, and work could be completed this fall over the course of about 30 days, city officials say.
Both the architect and construction bill will be covered by the city if commissioners decide to move ahead with repairs. The city owns the restaurant building and pier and is responsible for maintenance and repairs.
Joe's Crab Shack is in a 10-year lease to use the pier and restaurant building perched over the Atlantic Ocean, and pays the city both base rent and percentage rent that kicks in if a certain revenue threshold is reached each year. The city has amassed close to $4 million in rent payments since Joe's opened seven years ago.
That $4 million has covered a good share of the $6.2 million the city spent getting control of the pier and overhauling it for two years. Joe's Crab Shack spent another $4.5 million renovating the casino building.
The original lease between the city and Joe's was struck in December 2011. It can be extended for five-year additions four times, which could keep the restaurant on the pier for a total of 30 years. [ALSO READ: Joe’s Crab Shack trying to lease more of Daytona Beach Pier]
Brian Kuehn, general manager of the Daytona Beach Joe's Crab Shack, said the water leaks have had little impact on the business that has had total annual gross sales ranging from $8.18 million to $8.9 million.
"There have been small leaks here and there," Kuehn said, noting the building is constantly subjected to the harsh ocean environment. "The city has been good about fixing it when there's a problem and patching things."
City officials say there's been water intrusion in the restaurant, and they plug leaks as they're found, something they just did on Friday. To put a stop to the leaks, the architect recommends that the entire roof system be replaced.
"It would not be prudent to remove only the existing walkable surface and install a new walkable surface on top of a roof that is (about) 9 years old and is already leaking," Joe Piper, a technical services project manager for the city, wrote in a May 24 memo to City Manager Jim Chisholm.
The report did find the top of a pavilion-type structure over a bar on the roof to be in good condition, and could remain effective for five years with proper repairs and maintenance. But the report went on to say it might make sense to replace it at the same time as the rest of the roofing so it will match, and so it will have the same maintenance procedures and warranty.
Gary Koliopulos, who's been running his Beach Express gift shop on State Road A1A for 30 years, was surprised to hear that the restaurant around the corner is having roof problems.
"You would think after the millions they spent they would get it right," Koliopulos said.
But the gift shop owner has high praise for Joe's Crab Shack, one of the highest revenue-producing restaurants in Volusia County.
"I hear they're doing well, and the view is epic. You can't beat that," Koliopulos said.
City Commissioner Quanita May, whose zone includes the pier and much of the city's beachside, supports tackling the restaurant building's leak issues.
"We partnered with them, so if they do well, we do well," May said. "And we're like any landlord. We need to take care of the property. ... If there is something wrong, we need to fix it."