January 10, 2017

MEMO TO:        Mayor Barber and Board of Commissioners

FROM:             Frank A. Rush, Jr., Town Manager

SUBJECT:       2017 Beach Access Food Vendor Program - (Summary & Suggested Motions)

The Board of Commissioners is scheduled to consider two options for the Town’s regional beach access food vendor program at the January 10 meeting.  Alesia Sanderson, Parks and Recreation Director, will present the two options and be available to answer any questions.

As noted in the attached memo from Alesia Sanderson, the 2016 food vendor program was not as successful as initially hoped.  The program was limited to food vendors with a “brick and mortar” presence in Emerald Isle only, and participation declined throughout the summer, with only one food vendor (Jackie’s American Grill) continuing to offer food products after July - on a somewhat random schedule.  Unfortunately, it was not profitable for the other food vendors who initially participated (Dairy Queen, Ben & Jerry’s, Sweet Spot, EI Wine Market) or expressed initial interest (Flipperz, Sharks Den), and vendor availability at the regional beach accesses was random and uncertain through most of the summer.  Town staff actually received some mild complaints about the fact that patrons could not “count on” the food vendors being set up with food for purchase on certain days. 

In 2016, the Town charged a daily fee of $50 per vendor per day on weekends and other prime days, and $25 per day on other weekdays.  Vendors worked cooperatively with Town staff to divide up the prime days available at each regional beach access.  In total, the Town earned a total of $2,175 in vendor fees from 5 vendors (Jackie’s American Grill, Dairy Queen, Ben & Jerry’s, Sweet Spot, and EI Wine Market).  These funds were deposited in the General Fund. 

Two options are presented for Board consideration for 2017.  Option 1 is identical to the 2016 program, and limits participation to Emerald Isle businesses only, but reduces the daily vendor fee to $25 for all days.  All other aspects of the program are identical to 2016, as outlined in the attached summary sheet.  The Board should note that Town staff do not expect significant interest from Emerald Isle businesses in 2017 due to their poor experience in 2016, however, at least one Emerald Isle business (Flip Flops Donut Shop) has expressed interest in participating in 2017. 

Option 2 is very similar to the 2016 program, but would allow non-Emerald Isle businesses to participate in the 2017 program, albeit with a higher daily vendor fee ($75), as outlined in the attached summary sheet.  Expanding this opportunity to non-Emerald Isle businesses may generate more vendors, particularly the popular food trucks operating in Carteret and Onslow counties, and would provide a greater convenience for patrons of the regional beach access facilities.  However, there may be an actual or perceived negative impact on Emerald Isle “brick and mortar” food establishments by allowing non-Emerald Isle food vendors to operate at the regional beach access facilities.

Additionally, the Board may wish to discontinue the program altogether, and simply rely on patrons to bring their own food or temporarily leave and visit an EI food establishment, as was the case prior to 2016.  The Board should note that we don’t view the Beach Access Food Vendor Program as a significant revenue-generator for the Town, and view the program primarily as a convenience for patrons of these facilities and as an additional opportunity for Emerald Isle businesses. 

If the Board chooses to continue this program, Town staff will contact potential food vendors in January and February to make them aware of the 2017 opportunity.  Applications would be due by February 28, and all slots would be assigned by March 31.  The program would begin in May and continue through September, assuming sufficient interest from food vendors.

Alesia Sanderson and I look forward to the Board’s input on this issue, and welcome any other suggestions or approaches that the Board would like to consider.