Odeen’s wins lease extension at Ridgefield Golf Course
Coffee and breakfast sandwiches in the morning, sunset dinners in the evening.
Life is good at the Ridgefield Golf Course, which made it an easy decision for the Board of Selectmen to extend the lease for O’Deen’s Barbecue to be the course’s food service provider.
“I can’t believe we’re in year four,” said restaurant owner Marshall O’Deen who presented in front of the selectmen at their Oct. 2 meeting.
“Time flies,” said Selectman Bob Hebert.
“I’ve heard only good thing, and that’s very refreshing from our prior experience,” added Selectwoman Barbara Manners. “I totally support extending the agreement.”
O’Deen told the board that he’s learning every year and that the restaurant had experienced its “most smooth year yet” at the course.
“We’ve listened to every concern brought to us,” he said.
As for the popularity of eating dinner at the course in the summer, O’Deen said he was happy to oblige customers who came in late but that his focus remained on the golfers who use the course and stop in for a quick bite — either in the morning or during a round in the middle of the day.
“It’s easy for us to say, ‘Let’s double down on dinners,’ but we can’t take our eye off why we’re there,” he said. “We’re there for the golfers.”
O’Deen said he’s even heard people ask us to stay open in winter.
“It wouldn’t work,” he said, “people don’t even come in when it’s rainy during the summer. It’s all driven by the golf community. ... Our business tracks with the golf course.”
O’Deen said that the revenues for the 2018-19 season were the same as they were for the 2016-17 season.
“Almost dead-on with that year,” he said. “We were off considerably last year, same with the course. But we’re up 14% this year and we’re hoping for a nice long season this year.”
Both he and Golf Committee Chairman Ed Tyrrell agreed that rain this spring dampened some of the early season revenues.
“Seems to be in step with what happens with the golf course,” O’Deen said. “But people were still coming in droves at the end of September  which is a good sign, and July  was our strongest month this year. A number of people must have chosen to stay in town I guess.”
Tyrrell said the golf course revenues in July, August, and September of this year were the second best this decade.
“The golf course is really green and in great shape,” he said.
On the restaurant side, O’Deen said maintenance costs were fairly low this year.
“Our equipment has held up for the most part,” he said.
First Selectman Rudy Marconi wondered how the restaurant’s food cart on the course had done this year.
“We’re about break even,” O’Deen replied.
He said that having it on the course is something that was necessary.
“Golfers are always looking to improve their round time and having the food shack there helps,” he said.
Tyrrell added that the food shack keeps golfers on the course and prevents them for going inside during the middle of a round.
“It offers burgers, dogs” he said. “The shack keeps the pace of play at a good rate.”
And eventually it will help revenue, Marconi said.
“Every bit of the experience helps revenue,” Tyrrell agreed. “Some things you can’t measure metrically. Some things you just know it’s a plus.”
Marconi asked Tyrrell if the Golf Committee would recommend extending O’Deens lease for more than a year — the length of the current term.
“We haven’t discussed it yet,” Tyrrell responded. “By July 2020, we should though.”
“Let’s do one more year, and then we’re going to work on a longer term,” Marconi said.
O’Deen saw no problems.
“We’re willing to do one more year and then talk further about it,” he said
“Our intent is to provide full-round experience,” he concluded. “Everything we try to do is to make this course the most desirable choice in the area.”