A new restaurant is hoping to take over the former location of Dee Dee’s Diner in downtown Ocala.
The Lion and Bull will ask for approval of a new, five-year lease with the city at Tuesday’s meeting of the Ocala City Council.
The city put out the call for a new tenant at Union Station this past June, just six months after the former tenant, Dee Dee’s Diner, closed up shop. That diner closed in December after ten years in operation at the location.
Out of four proposals received, including one from Big Lee’s BBQ, the selection committee ranked The Lion and the Bull as the top choice.
According to city records, the owners of the restaurant, who live in the Ocala Historic District, previously operated Sunset Grill, a restaurant in South Florida.
The city believes the restaurant is a key component in the redevelopment of the downtown, midtown, North Magnolia, and Tuscawilla Park areas. It is situated next door to the Magnolia Art Xchange, an art gallery and studio that features events and works from local artists.
City staff is in the process of upgrading the exterior and interior of the building with new paint, equipment, and flooring, as well as minor repairs and signage. According to city records, the renovations will cost approximately $40,000.
The restaurant’s lease with the city has a term of five years, with one five-year renewal period. The restaurant tenant will pay utilities, as well as $500 for rent each month during the first year, and $1,000 for rent each month during the last four years of the lease. The rent during the renewal period will be based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rate.
The Lion and Bull joins multiple other restaurants in various stages of development in downtown Ocala, including Cantina Tex Mex and Tequila, which recently completed construction, and Mellow Mushroom, which is in the midst of constructing its new, multi-story building to replace the former Brother’s Keeper Thrift Store.
New restaurants have also been sprouting up everywhere else around the city of Ocala.
The Ocala City Council next meets on Tuesday, November 16, at 5 p.m. at Ocala City Hall, which is located at 110 SE Watula Avenue.