Bob Snow

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Bob Snow is an entrepreneur who founded Seville Quarter in 1967.

Ownership of Seville Quarter[edit]

In 1967, Snow was an ex-Navy pilot and former trumpet player for the Minneapolis symphony whose band, South Hangar Six, played jazz at private parties and nightclubs around Pensacola. He rented a dilapidated brick warehouse on East Government Street (formerly home of the Pensacola Cigar and Tobacco Company) for $140 per month, and he and his bandmates made repairs and built a small bandstand. His total startup budget was limited to a last military paycheck of $400, $1,500 for the sale of his sports car, $1,700 from pawning an antique shotgun collection, and $50 from some old bottles he found behind the warehouse.[1] When an air conditioning contractor demanded up-front payment for the $3,500 cooling system, Snow couldn't afford to pay. Luckily, attorney Wilmer Mitchell was able to convince the Citizens and People's National Bank to issue a $5,000 loan.[2] The Monday after the opening weekend, Snow was able to repay the bank loan and get his shotgun collection out of hock.[2] He later purchased the warehouse building for $28,000, adding the "Lili Marlene's" room and expanding the Seville Quarter complex.

In 1972, Snow began work on a similar venture in Orlando called Church Street Station, complete with its own "Rosie O'Grady's No. 2." The Orlando complex opened in July 1974 and is widely regarded as the inspiration for Walt Disney World's Pleasure Island.

As Snow devoted most of his attentions to his Church Street Station complex in Orlando and other ventures, he began seeking a buyer for the Pensacola operation.

In May 1985, Snow sold Seville Quarter for about $3 million to the group "Seville Entertainment Complex Inc." (SEC), at first comprised of Pensacola real estate developer Bill Goliwas and New Orleans restaurateur John Trauth, who added Alan Bunt and other investors before closing. Goliwas later sold his 25 percent share to Bunt. Other shareholders included Susan Ragan, Don Lanier and Bob Gatwood.[3]

Snow retained a $1.7 million second mortgage on the complex, in addition to the first mortgage of $850,000 held by First Mutual Savings Association.

In August 1986, Snow began foreclosure proceedings against SEC and sought to have a receiver appointed to oversee operations. SEC filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy on September 25.[4]

SEC closed Seville's doors on January 5, 1987 and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy shortly thereafter. According to Bunt, the initial debt service was "unserviceable" and had doomed the new ownership. "We never had a chance from the start and Snow knew that and so did the two guys [Goliwas and Trauth] who put together the deal we got. They knew it was just a matter of time from the beginning."[5]

Snow refuted those claims and stated his desire to "get Seville Quarter into the hands of competent operators who know the business and have the money to make it into the institution it once was."[5] On November 23, 1988, Snow's longtime attorney Wilmer Mitchell, who had maintained his law offices in the Rosie O'Grady's building even during its closure, announced a lease/purchase agreement with Snow to reopen Seville Quarter and operate it a a "Mom and Pop affair" with the rest of the Mitchell family.[6]

Revitalization of downtown[edit]

The establishment of Seville Quarter has been recognized as one of the springboards for the revitalization of downtown Pensacola in the 1960s and 70s, working in conjunction with other preservation efforts going on at that time. Besides turning a row of vacant, boarded-up warehouses into a vibrant entertainment complex, Snow was active in the creation of "Palafox Place" on South Palafox Street.[7]

One of the strongest recommendations Snow gave to city leaders was to reopen Government Street at its eastern terminus with 9th Avenue, feeling it would reconnect the Seville Historic District to residents and tourists. Without more attention from the city, Snow warned, the historic district could become "a cancer to the city."[8]

References[edit]

  1. J. Earle Bowden. "Seville Quarter entertainment complex needs new touch of genius." Pensacola News Journal, September 14, 1986.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Rosie O'Grady's good times return with a new beat and look." Pensacola Journal, May 13, 1983.
  3. "Seville Quarter's woes in court." Pensacola News Journal, September 24, 1986.
  4. "Bankruptcy filing buys time for Seville Quarter." Pensacola News Journal, September 26, 1986.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Seville Quarter closes doors." Pensacola News Journal, January 3, 1987.
  6. "Good times to roll again at Seville Quarter." Pensacola News Journal, November 24, 1988.
  7. "Tokyo-bound Snow worries city does not develop potential." Pensacola News Journal, April 12, 1987.
  8. "Troubled Seville still waiting for city help." Pensacola News Journal, April 26, 1987.