River Cities Gazette

Medley gives OK to Latin American Grill for Hot Meals Program

VOTE OF CONFIDENCE: Latin American Grill owner and operator Reny Gonzalez was present at Monday night's Medley council meeting to thank the council for voting to continue using his restaurant for the town's Hot Meals Program.
VOTE OF CONFIDENCE: Latin American Grill owner and operator Reny Gonzalez was present at Monday night's Medley council meeting to thank the council for voting to continue using his restaurant for the town's Hot Meals Program.
Gazette Photo/BILL DALEY

River Cities Gazette

After haggling for the last six months over what to do about the current contract with Latin American Grill revolving around the Town of Medley’s Hot Meals Program, the council on Monday night (March 3) unanimously voted. And the vote was ... to do nothing.

Latin American, which has had the contract to feed more than 400 senior residents in Medley Lakeside Retirement Park for the last four years, will enjoy a fifth and likely beyond.

“I’m very pleased and think we’ve earned it,” said Reny Gonzalez, LAG’s owner and operator of its four restaurants in Doral, Miami Lakes, Pembroke Pines and Marlins Park. “We’ve been here for four years and the residents have spoken loud and clear. We’ve done multiple surveys ourselves along with the town and every time a survey has gone out they overwhelmingly want Latin American Grill to service their catering. I understand that there are perhaps other businesses in the area that are vying for the service but we can only do the best we can from our end and stand by our quality.”

Gonzalez referred to a recent survey conducted by the town, namely Medley’s Director of the Hot Meals Program, Fathima Fuentes. Fuentes went before the council Monday night and gave them some numbers.

“The survey was sent out Feb. 28, and is not done yet,” Fuentes said. “But so far we’ve collected 163 and out of those only five were negative responses.”

“Only five out of 163?” asked Councilman Jack Morrow, sounding a little shocked. “That’s hardly anyone. When you go out to dinner with 10 people, usually you’ll always get a couple that complain about the food.”

The issue first came up last October when Alex Salvant, owner of La Mia Restaurant just two blocks from Medley Town Hall, went before council to make a case that there were plenty of complaints and that the town should look into either giving his restaurant (which had the service before Latin America) the service back or put it back up to go through the RFP (Request for Proposal) bidding process.

But, based on the numbers, Vice Mayor Griselia DiGiacomo wasn’t buying any of it and made a motion to keep Latin America’s services and Morrow made a second and the unanimous vote followed.

“The survey speaks for itself and that there is no need to go through the additional expense of the RFP process,” said Mayor Roberto Martell, who confirmed after the meeting that while LAG’s contract is up on May 31, no price changes are scheduled and that the contract will be renewed for at least two more years or perhaps more.

“It happens, when you’re the hunted, you get hunted and you have to defend yourself and we defend ourselves with the truth,” said Gonzalez. “As I pointed out in there, we spend a lot of money with Medley businesses, so all in all, the town made the right decision in there tonight.”

Salvant was not at Monday night’s meeting.

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