Who topped the rankings among bidders on the Nikki Beach site? The results are in

A committee reviewing proposals to take over the city-owned Nikki Beach property in South Beach gave high marks to Boucher Brothers on Monday, ranking the beach concession company first among three bidders for a 10-year deal and tied for first with restaurant company The Group among four bidders for a 30-year arrangement.

Conspicuously absent from the process were representatives for Nikki Beach, the longtime restaurant and day club that is a popular party and relaxation spot at the city’s southern edge. Miami Beach officials rejected a submission by attorneys for the club’s owners, Jack and Lucia Penrod, saying they failed to submit a bid through the city’s online portal by a 3 p.m. deadline on Aug. 30.

The club says there was a glitch in the city’s system and has filed a challenge in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. A hearing has not yet been held.

READ MORE: City rejects Nikki Beach bid to remain in South Beach due to missed proposal deadline

The evaluation committee’s scores are not binding. They will now go to Miami Beach City Manager Alina Hudak, who will make a recommendation to the City Commission on a bidder and length of agreement for one of the most coveted slices of land in South Beach.

Presentations on Monday from the four bidders — Boucher Brothers, The Group US Management LLC, RH (formerly known as Restoration Hardware), and Tao Group Hospitality and One Ocean Hospitality LLC — were closed to the public.

Following the presentations, public deliberations were held by an evaluation committee consisting of four city officials and South of Fifth Neighborhood Association President Keith Marks.

Among three 10-year proposals, Boucher Brothers ranked first, The Group US Management LLC ranked second, and Tao Group Hospitality and One Ocean Hospitality LLC ranked third.

Out of four 30-year proposals, Boucher and The Group were tied for first, followed by Tao and then RH.

The Group is a New York-based collection of restaurants that will soon be expanding to Miami Beach with the upcoming opening of Le Jardin Boucherie, in the South of Fifth neighborhood that is also home to Nikki Beach.

Emil Stefkov, The Group’s founder and president, also co-founded Casa Reia, a beach club in Lisbon.

“We are uniquely positioned to offer something special that doesn’t exist in Miami Beach right now,” Stefkov said in an interview Monday evening.

A rendering shows a proposal by The Group for a beach club at the current site of Nikki Beach.

Representatives for Boucher, Tao and RH could not immediately be reached for comment.

Tao Group operates restaurants and nightclubs around the country.

RH, a home furniture retailer that has expanded to hospitality, released details of its bid last week, proposing to redevelop Nikki Beach to include a beach club, a bathhouse and spa, three food and beverage venues, a design studio, a library and art galleries, according to The Real Deal.

Most details of proposals aren’t being released

In a statement after the rankings were released, Nikki Beach said it “firmly believes it made the best proposal for the neighborhood and the citizens of Miami Beach,” touting “tens of millions of dollars” in guaranteed rent payments and revenue and “unmatched” public benefits.

The city’s refusal to consider its bid “is a grave violation of its duty to act in the best interest of its citizens who would benefit from the fair and competitive consideration of all bidders,” the statement said.

Most details of the bids were unclear Monday. Under state law, the city isn’t required to release the proposals until 30 days after submission. The Miami Herald requested the proposals, but city officials said they will not be released until Sept. 24.

The Boucher Brothers’ proposal includes a partnership with Major Food Group to feature a Sadelle’s restaurant on the site, according to discussions during the ranking process.

Boucher Brothers rents out umbrellas and chairs to beachgoers.

Current lease expires in 2026

The Nikki Beach owners’ lease agreement with the city of Miami Beach expires in May 2026. For months, they have argued the city’s process is rigged in favor of Boucher Brothers, starting in April when the City Commission voted to pursue a non-binding term sheet with Boucher and paved the way for a possible no-bid deal.

The move was met with public outcry and commissioners walked back their vote, directing staff to instead issue a request for proposals to operate a “high-end beach establishment” on the property and adjacent beach area.

Nikki Beach has battled the city in court with limited success. A Miami-Dade Circuit judge dismissed a May lawsuit last month, calling their claims “speculative and unripe.” The club has since filed an amended complaint.

The owners of day club Nikki Beach say they are victims of an unfair process to determine the future of the property after their lease with the city of Miami Beach expires.

The club also filed a formal protest of the city’s request for proposals, saying the process has been “marred by inappropriate political influence and preferential treatment of prospective bidders.” They pointed to several city officials accepting tickets in May valued at $3,000 apiece to attend Carbone Beach, an event produced by Boucher Brothers and hosted by Major Food Group — gifts that may have violated state ethics rules.

More recently, records released in discovery of the club’s lawsuit showed cozy ties between city officials and representatives of Boucher and Major Food Group, including coordination to secure tables at notoriously hard-to-book restaurant Carbone.

This story has been updated to include comments and a rendering from The Group.