VineRipe Grill and the Wisel family have been fixtures at the Robert T. Lynch Golf Course for 13 years and valued members of the Brookline community for longer than that. Lisa Wisel is an active member as the CEO of the Brookline Chamber of Commerce and was hopeful that after the devastating loss of revenue in 2020 due to the pandemic that 2021 would be the beginning of a new chapter for the restaurant. But that may not be the case. Last week, in a move that has brought outrage from many in the community, voted not to renew VineRipe’s contract at the golf course.
Last Friday, Wisel spent some time on this publication’s new video show, “BrooklineHub in-depth,” and detailed to me the troubling details of how the vendor process played out.
According to Wisel, VineRipe had not been officially notified by the Commission that it had gone in a different direction at the time of the interview. Wisel also learned that the new contract winner had been chosen to be recommended ahead of the vote. Wisel explained that the first RFP sent out to potential vendors required the winning vendor to pay $100,000 in clubhouse infrastructure, pay the town 10% of all catering sales, and provide meals to the Brookline employees who work at the course. When no business responded to the RFP, including VineRipe, the Commission issued a one-year RFQ. VineRipe responded to the RFQ but was not chosen by the Commission to remain at the Robert T. Lynch Golf Course in a move that shocked Wisel.
When asked by email about the process that led to the determination and the commission’s next steps moving forward, Leigh Jackson, director of Brookline Recreation, responded, “I am currently working with the Park and Recreation Commission to schedule a meeting that may review town procurement process and take public comment. Details are coming together now. We originally posted it for 3/16/2021 but postponed it today to make sure it works for all parties, including one of our vendors. I hope to come to a date/time that works for all early in the week; at that point, the meeting will be posted on the Town Website.”
Wisel indicated during the interview that VineRipe Grill had received no negative feedback from the Town of Brookline or the public during the 13 years they’ve been at the golf course. VineRipe is known throughout the community for its efforts to provide free and other gestures to support the community and help the underserved.