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Padre Island's most iconic and longest-running business is changing hands after forty years of operation. Snoopy’s Pier owner and founder Ernie Buttler said this week he has signed an agreement to sell the venerable and successful business to Mitchell Kalogridis, owner of the adjacent Marker 37 Marina.

“I’ve been doing this since I was twenty-six,” Ernie said, “It’s time to hand it off to somebody else. “We are taking over an island institution,” Kalogridis said. “It is working and we are not going to change a thing.” He said the current staff will be kept in place once the final paperwork is done, which is expected within the next week.

The change of hands ends the forty year run which began when Corliss and Ernie Buttler bought Snoopy’s Pier in 1979, opening its doors in 1980. Ernie said the area under the John F. Kennedy Bridge was then a shantytown and the building that eventually became Snoopy’s Pier had been a bait stand and fishing pier since opening in 1959. The pier closed in 1972 and Westinghouse bought the building turning it into a clubhouse and sales office for prospective buyers of Island real estate. When Westinghouse sold its Island holdings the building sat vacant until the Buttlers bought it in 1979. “We had to get help and clean out the shacks down there,” Ernie said this week. “The place was a knife and gun club.”

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The change of hands ends the forty year run which began when Corliss and Ernie Buttler bought Snoopy’s Pier in 1979, opening its doors in 1980. Ernie said the area under the John F. Kennedy Bridge was then a shantytown and the building that eventually became Snoopy’s Pier had been a bait stand and fishing pier since opening in 1959. The pier closed in 1972 and Westinghouse bought the building turning it into a clubhouse and sales office for prospective buyers of Island real estate. When Westinghouse sold its Island holdings the building sat vacant until the Buttlers bought it in 1979. “We had to get help and clean out the shacks down there,” Ernie said this week. “The place was a knife and gun club.”

Before founding Snoopy's Ernie was a commercial fisherman. He said the name that is now so synonymous with Padre Island came about by accident. “When we took it over there was an old sign that was fifty-eight feet long with letters eightfeet high that said ‘Snoopy’s,’ and so we thought why build a new sign when we already had one,” Ernie said. “We just added Pier later on.”

Over the years Ernie added much more than “Pier” to the name. He also built the actual pier himself, and the building, and the parking lot, and the marina, and Marker 37, and the street auction in 2018, said this week they have finished design drawings for the 2500-foot canal and bulkheads and have obtained a building permit from the city and they expect to begin construction on the canal by late 2019, about the same time as the bridge work is expected to begin.

The final design for the bridge calls for a center arch covering a 48-foot span with 14 feet of clearance above the waterline of the canal. Two adjacent arches will cover 36 feet each with 9 and one-half feet of clearance each with sidewalks for pedestrians and golf carts.

The plans call for the three arches that make up the bridge to be pre-cast concrete resting on drilled shaft supports and seeking a second supplier for the arches to lower price is part of the delay, according to city sources. The walls of the canal are lined with sheet piling and the channel floor is lined with concrete to prevent erosion. Data provided by the Texas Department of Transportation included in the bid package shows average daily traffic over the site where the bridge is located at 23,900 vehicles in 2012, 36,100 by 2032, and 40,800 vehicles by 2042. Of those vehicles 4.9% are trucks.

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The contract calls for Liquidated Damages of $800 per day if the project goes over the timeline in the contact which begins within 240 days of awarding the bid. Axys Capital Management and International Bank of Commerce bought the 70 acres of land between the existing Island canal system and the bridge site at auction last year.

Whitecap Bulkheads In a second and unrelated project, a low bid of $1.6 million has been awarded to repair and refurbish the bulkheads around the vacant land adjacent to the Padre Island Yacht Club and Whitecap Wastewater Treatment Plan at the west end of the Whitecap Boulevard. The name of the low bidder will be announced when the project goes to the city council on Tuesday, October 15 for final approval. The project has caused a delay in work on the Riley P. Dog Park also planned at the site. leading to both.

“Everything that’s here I built myself,” Ernie said. The Buttlers sold Marker 37 several years ago but kept adding on to Snoopy’s Pier even after severe damage by two hurricanes, adding Scoopy’s sandwich and ice cream shop eight years ago. “I’m a low key guy,” Ernie said. “I don’t go around telling people who I am, but no matter what city I go to in Texas somebody comes up to me and tells me how much they like Snoopy’s. It seems like everyone knows about Snoopy’s.” That includes a woman who has celebrated each of her 32 birthdays at Snoopy’s and families who make Snoopy’s a regular stop on their visits to Padre Island. Snoopy’s Pier is now one of only four Landmark Restaurants in the United States.

“We’ve been considering selling Snoopy’s for several years,” Ernie said this week. “We’ve got it back up to speed after Harvey with a great staff in place and we had our biggest day ever recently when Mitchell had a big concert at Marker 37 so it made perfect sense to hand it over to him.” Kalogridis said he plans to add some decking and a walkway to connect Snoopy’s and Marker 37.

The City of Corpus Christi is currently in the design phase for $1.5 million in bond money to upgrade the area near the bridge. “In twenty years this area is going to be our version of Kemah,” Ernie said. “This is the front porch of Padre Island.” It’s a porch that wouldn’t exist without the Buttlers and Snoopy’s Pier.

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