The DiPietro family, which also owns area courses Skyland Pines and Ohio Prestwick Country Club, along with popular local restaurants, will operate the course under a temporary contract until a permanent arrangement is finalized. There are plans to add pickleball and bocce ball courts to attract non-golfers. “We“re looking at this as not just a golf play, but as a food, beverage and entertainment play,” said Steve DiPietro.
Arrowhead Golf Club in North Canton, Ohio has a new operator, The Alliance (Ohio) Review reported. Mayor David Held announced on May 13 that the owners of Papa Bear’s/Pizza Oven restaurants have signed a contract with the city to run the golf course and banquet center.
The city-owned property will remain in the hands of North Canton, with the DiPietro family handling day-to-day business, The Review reported.
Among the highlights of the deal, according to Held, is a restaurant with daily hours for lunch and dinner, The Review reported. It won’t be a Papa Bear’s but will serve “fun food” made fresh with a changing seasonal menu, Steve DiPietro said at the afternoon news conference. “It really should be a fun community spot to go visit, whether you’re a golfer or not,” he said.
The DiPietros plan to make Arrowhead a year-round, seven-day-a-week venture. “We’re looking at this as not just a golf play, but as a food, beverage and entertainment play,” DiPietro told The Review.
The family also owns Skyland Pines Golf Course in Canton and Ohio Prestwick Country Club in Green, The Review reported. A membership to one of the clubs gives golfers the ability to play at all three, DiPietro said.
Plans also call for live music or entertainment every weekend at one of the venues, DiPietro told The Review. The new operators also plan to add new amenities to Arrowhead, such as pickleball and bocce ball courts, for those who don’t golf.
The DiPietro family will hit the ground running in taking over the operations, The Review reported, and all events currently scheduled will go on as planned.
“All the brides will be happy. All the events will be taken care of it. It will be completely seamless to the customer,” DiPietro said. “We’re here for everybody. We’re accessible. We’re here for you.”
North Canton has been seeking new operators, or at least a new deal with current operators, for weeks, The Review reported. In March, city officials issued a letter to the club’s previous operators, R&S Golf Properties, to notify R&S that it was in breach of the lease agreement and behind in rent and tax payments. In April, City Administrator Patrick DeOrio put that figure at roughly $300,000 in unpaid rent, as of the start of 2019.
Arrowhead covers about 105 acres, The Review reported. The city purchased the facility, which includes a golf course, swimming pool and clubhouse, for $4.2 million in 2003. In 2008, R&S Golf Properties—named for principals Rob Purcell and Scott DeMuesy—took over operations from the first managers, Larizza Management Group, by assuming terms of Larizza’s contract. Both operators struggled to meet the rent and tax obligations of that existing agreement, The Review reported.
The city is negotiating an exit strategy with the current operators, and that transition should be finalized by the end of the month, DeOrio told The Review. The DiPietros will operate with a temporary contract for about five months while the city drafts a final contract and goes through the legislative process, he said.
Under the temporary contract, the city will pay a management fee of $5,000 per month, The Review reported. The contract emphasizes transparency—any revenue will be deposited into a bank account the city can access, and expenses above a certain dollar amount will need city approval.
“There will be no unknown in this new entity for the city or the community or the citizens of North Canton,” DiPietro said.
The permanent contract will be a departure from the triple net lease model the city employed with past operators, The Review reported. Instead, the city is pursuing a business management model, and the deal will include a profit-sharing provision front-loaded to the city, DeOrio said.
For example, the first $300,000 would go to the city to invest back into Arrowhead and make needed improvements, he told The Review.
Arrowhead needs about $3.2 million in upgrades to bring facilities “to a standard that will provide long-term viability of the golf course and country-club facilities,” according to a report from the Environmental Working Group that was commissioned by the city earlier in 2019, The Review reported.
The more profit Arrowhead brings in, the larger percentage the operators will keep, DeOrio said.
“Golf is a tough sector to make money in. Our expectations are realistic. We don’t look at this to be some sort of panacea for revenues to the city,” he told The Review. “It’s about getting whatever revenues there are and redeploying them into the facility, to make it even more of an asset that people in this community could go to.”
The city looked into transforming Arrowhead into a park, with walking trails and other amenities, but “the expense just would have been too much for the city to bear at this time,” Held said.
Four companies submitted proposals to take over Arrowhead, Held told The Review, including two local applicants: the current operators and the DiPietro family
A city committee evaluated the applicants and assessed the needs, The Review reported. Going in a new direction was a difficult decision, Held said, but when the DiPietros submitted an application, the decision was easy because of their ties to the area and demonstrated commitment to it.
The family has the business expertise required and also know North Canton, as both Dave and Steve DiPietro’s children graduated from the local high school, The Review reported. They also proposed the lowest management fee.
“We love to have people who understand the community [and] the needs of the community,” Held said.
Steve DiPietro pointed to the family’s success at increasing business at Skyland Pines and long history of working in golf courses and restaurants, The Review reported.
“We grew up on golf courses since we were 10 and 8 years old; it’s in our blood,” he said. “We grew up in restaurants [and] started making boxes when we were 5. Our father knew child labor [laws] didn’t apply to his own [children], and taught us how to work.”