A longtime catering company has been booted from a recreation center in The Villages after failing to pay rent.
La Hacienda Catering began serving The Villages in 1993. The catering company has a prominent history in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown, including catering events featuring President George W. Bush and former Gov. Jeb Bush.
It was revealed at Wednesday’s Amenity Authority Committee that the catering company has been forced to pack up and vacate its longtime home at La Hacienda Recreation Center.
“They were in breach of their lease. They didn’t pay rent for a period of time,” the AAC’s attorney Kevin Stone told the committee members. “They owe us money.”
Recreation Department Director John Rohan said the ouster of La Hacienda Catering could create some much-needed space.
“It’s a blessing in disguise. We’ve been looking for space,” Rohan said.
Table tennis players in The Villages have been vigorously lobbying the AAC for a dedicated facility for their activities. It was suggested the former La Hacienda Catering space could be converted to a large table tennis room.
However, the catering space at La Hacienda Recreation Center would require significant work to convert it to a suitable facility for table tennis. Walk-in coolers and grease traps would have to be removed and restrooms would have to be expanded.
“It’s a great opportunity. Ultimately, we need to do something with the space,” said Assistant District Manager Bruce Brown, who oversees District Property Management.
However, the $990,000 estimate for the gutting and renovation of the former La Hacienda Catering space caused a little sticker shock among AAC members.
AAC Chair Donna Kempa pointed out that La Hacienda Recreation Center is due for a complete renovation in the next few years, after Paradise Recreation Center is completed in 2024.
“Is it really worth it to put $1 million into La Hacienda and then tear it down? You don’t even have a plan for La Hacienda yet,” said Judy Biebesheimer of the Village of Palo Alto.
The AAC agreed to look at the possibilities during a budget planning session later this year.