The Topock66 Story
In 2004, Chet Hitt received a phone call that the Topock Marina where his family had their vacation home had been sold to a developer. Chet immediately drove to Topock to discuss the developer’s plans for the Marina. When he asked the new buyer for a long term lease, he was told that the Park was to be demolished to make way for a Private Marina and Condominium Complex. Obviously, this was bad news for Chet and the rest of the folks living in the Park. The next morning Chet saw the Developer in the Restaurant, and again asked for a long term lease. He was shocked and angered by the response. “Didn’t you #%$&ing hear me?” he was told, “I’m #%$&ing kicking all of you out and tearing the place down and I’m moving into your house!”
Chet next went to the Owner of the Marina and told him “If this guy can’t close escrow in 30 days, I’ll buy the place myself.” To his surprise, the deal with the development company fell through, and Chet found himself stuck with a Marina and Restaurant, a business he knew nothing about. Determined to make lemonade out of lemons, he started putting together a team to help him run all facets of the business, Restaurant, Bar, Retail Store, Gasoline and Mobile Home Park. In 2008 Chet determined that the old Restaurant and Bar was sliding into the river and began the two- year permit process with the Army Corps of Engineers for a new Seawall and River Walk. During this period, several of the mobile homes were condemned due to age and other tenants had to be relocated. Chet used this time to beginng the design of a new Hotel Resort. In 2010, with construction permits acquired and financing in place, the old Topock Marina was demolished after 50 years as a tradition on the River. “If I had any idea what was heading our way,” Chet says “I would have never torn down the old Restaurant.” Chet is referring to a visit from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that immediately halted any plans to start construction.
After the project had been cleared by Mohave County Building & Safety, Arizona Fish & Game and the Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA determined that a portion of the project fell within a federally recognized flood plain. What followed was two years of re-engineering, re-permitting and of course the beginning of the worst economic downturn in history. During these two years, the Topock project was the source of much gossip including stories making the rounds about all sorts of disasters befalling the property, celebrity partners, and even the bankruptcy of the project. Never one to give up in the face of adversity, Chet essentially began his project over from scratch. He had a Seawall designed and made the decision to begin the project with the Restaurant, Bar, and Retail Space since it needed the least re-engineering. New financing was lined up and finally in 2011, the Seawall required to raise the property out of the flood plain was approved by the Army Corps of Engineers and construction began on the New Topock66 Spa & Resort. Of course, a project of this size is not without challenges and Topock66 had its fair share. Anonymous calls to OSHA, Mohave County Building & Safety, Arizona Dept. of Transporation, the Local Fire Department and the Contractor’s License Board kept Chet and the crew on their toes and ensured that Chet got to know the Inspectors quite well. Arizona’s weather can also be an issue, in the face of cold weather and extreme heat the Subcontractors worked diligently to meet nearly impossible deadlines. Finally, on July 19th the first phase of Topock66 opened to the public. The history of Topock Marina is such that the moment the doors opened, everyone on The River (it seemed) came to check out the new place. The very young and inexperienced staff performed gallantly and learned from every mistake and customer comment. Today we couldn’t be prouder of our food, our staff and our customer service. We are glad you are here and appreciate your business. Many of you have been coming here for years, and we are happy that we have been able to bring the Topock tradition back to the River. If you have any questions or comments we would love to hear them. You can usually find Chet Hitt on the property, but if not, any member of our staff would love to talk to you. Of course, you can always find us on Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor or on our website at www.topock66.com.