Odeen's, town renew contract to feed golfers

Odeen's serves barbecue at the annual Ridgefield Gone Country festival in May. — Steve Coulter photo
Odeen's serves barbecue at the annual Ridgefield Gone Country festival in May. — Steve Coulter photo

Odeen’s BBQ will continue serving the needs of hungry and thirsty golfers.

A one-year extension of Marshall Odeen’s agreement with the town for the restaurant concession at the Ridgefield Golf Course was unanimously approved by the Board of Selectmen at a recent meeting.

The agreement, which had the support of the course’s golf pro, Frank Sergiovanni, extends Odeen’s concession through Dec. 31, 2019.

“We do have a partnership,” Sergiovanni told the selectmen. “We do have issues … Any bumps in the road, we work through.”

An example of an issue, he said, is “the handling of the beverage cart, and the days it should operate.”

Areas where cooperative efforts had been fruitful include the new “snack shack” facility and also a new awning over the deck.

“We’ve partnered on improvements,” Sergiovanni said. “...I do feel the town has a partnership with Odeen’s.”

Odeen’s took on the golf food and beverage concession three years ago, after the town’s relationship with the previous operator deteriorated — with hours of operation the most contentious issue.

The initial three-year contract between Odeen’s and the town was scheduled to end later this year, after the golf season.

The business — which is dependent on good golf weather — started off exceeding revenue projections.

“Our first year were about 27% above,” Odeen said.

“The next season, down 8%,” he said.  

How about this year?

“You’ve seen all the rain,” Odeen said.

‘Deluge after deluge’

Sergiovanni offered similar testimony when asked if the course was getting more golfers.

Comparisons are thrown off because the weather’s been so bad, he said.

The course went through its worst 50-day period in memory this summer.

“Not just rain, but deluge after deluge,” Sergiovanni said.

“I’ve been in the business 35 years, and I’ve never seen anything like it.”

The food operation’s customer base is people who come to play golf — and that’s controlled indirectly by the contract.

“The spirit of the agreement is they’re not operating outside of the golf day,” Sergiovanni said.

Still, there are some non-golfing customers.

“Do people come just for lunch?” Selectwoman Barbara Manners asked.

“They do,” said Odeen. “They come just for lunch. They come just for dinner. They come just for cocktails at sunset...

“We’ve got flowers out on the deck,” Odeen said. “I really believe it’s one of the most enjoyable public views in town.”