CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — For eight years, May Mendoza Nardone was a part of many families' summer vacation memories. Locals and out-of-towners came to the eatery she owned on Bob Hall Pier — Mikel May's — a Padre Island staple.
“I wanted people to come into my restaurant and feel like you’re on vacation in your backyard,” she said.
But almost a year-and-a-half after Hurricane Hanna destroyed the pier and Mikel May's, she is still a restaurateur without a restaurant.
One Nueces County commissioner said Tuesday, however, that situation may being to change sooner rather than later. Pct. 4 commissioner Brent Chesney said commissioners could be taking steps toward demolishing and rebuilding the pier as soon as next month.
“We are expecting to get the demolition bids at the January commissioners court meeting, so that will be the first step,” he said.
Chesney said the commissioners court will get together with Jacobs Engineering Group, who were chosen last year, to see how much the pier will cost after seeing the initial designs. That will help determine when the pier will open again, but as of now, there is no set date
County officials originally hoped to have the pier open by summer 2022, but funding issues delayed the pier's — and restaurant's — reconstruction. The county originally applied to FEMA for money to help fix the pier, but those funds were denied.
“We’ve never had to rebuild a pier and we’ve never, fortunately, had a pier knocked down before," he said. "So that’s been the frustrating part for me. It just hasn’t moved as fast as I would have liked, and it could’ve moved if it was just one entity.”
In October, KRIS 6 News reported that the Texas General Land Office had included repairs to Bob Hall Pier in its list of projects to be subsidized by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
“Not only is the Texas General Land Office involved but so is the Army Corp of Engineers, so when you’re dealing with the state and the feds and us and then come up with the funding for an $18 million project, it’s definitely posed some challenges that we did not anticipate,” Chesney said.
But as of now, the project to fix the iconic pier is being funded by $18 million of local taxpayer money.
Mendoza Nardone is working with Chesney and Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales on new plans for her restaurant, which was housed in two buildings.
She said the 40-year-old building which housed the kitchen, bathrooms, and gift shop will have to be demolished and rebuilt, while the 10-year-old second building, which houses the bar and dining room, will remain.
She has hope that the entire restaurant will be up and running in the next few years.
“The toughest part of being closed is we were a family up here," she said. "I miss my employees, I miss my customers."