Mickey Rats Beach Club is up for sale.
Longtime owner Richi Alberts confirmed Wednesday that he is seeking a buyer for the highly popular and legendary Southtowns waterfront entertainment destination, which has been in his family for nearly 44 years.
He said he has had five different potential buyers look at the property and sign confidentiality agreements, but has not yet completed a sale.
William Paladino, CEO of Ellicott Development Co., said on Wednesday that he had the Evans club and its Captain Kidds Restaurant under contract to be acquired. He did not disclose the price or closing date, and said the firm is still evaluating its options for a future project.
Indeed, rumors have abounded since early summer among Mickey Rats patrons and fans that the developer plans to build apartments or condos on the 4.26-acre site at 8934 Lakeshore Road in the Town of Evans.
But Alberts said that the contract with Paladino and four other investors expired in early September after 90 days, and was no longer valid. As a result, he said, it’s business as usual right now as the summer season comes to an end.
“I’m having a seasonal closing party this Saturday, as I usually do,” he said, adding that he currently plans to reopen next year, although it’s still for sale.
The sprawling Lake Erie property – actually several sites cobbled together in acquisitions years ago – has been a beachfront destination for generations of Western New Yorkers, dating back to the 1940s, when over a dozen beach bars and establishments operated in that area. Alberts’ brother took possession of the current property in the late 1960s and then Alberts himself took it over later, acquiring three other bars to add to the site and eventually building the current 20,000-square-foot complex, including the patio. Captain Kidds opened almost 35 years ago.
“We’ve got a beautiful, beautiful sandy beach,” he said. “People have been coming out here for years.”
Today, it remains one of the best-known bars in the country, citing a onetime listing in Reader’s Digest. In any given summer, he estimated, the business probably has about 100,000 people visit, including repeat customers.
“It’s kind of the fiber of Western New York. It’s been around for so long,” he said. “That’s why it’s such a human interest story. We’re like the last man standing.”
But now, he 63-year-old admits that it’s time for a change.
“I’ve had enough,” he said. “It’s a tough business. I don’t really want to sell it, but that damn thing with age.”