January 12, 2016

MEMO TO:           Mayor Barber and Board of Commissioners

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

SUBJECT:           Proposed Regional Beach Access Food Vendor Program

I have scheduled time on the January 12 meeting agenda for the Board to review the proposed framework for a new regional beach access food vendor program planned for summer 2016.  If the Board is comfortable with the framework outlined in the attached “Regional Beach Access Food Vendor Opportunities – Summer 2016” document, Town staff will solicit applications from Emerald Isle food businesses interested in offering meals and dessert foods for sale at the Eastern Ocean Regional Access (EORA) and Western Ocean Regional Access (WORA) this summer.

As you know, there have been several discussions in recent months about offering this additional service at the Town’s two regional beach access facilities.  The EORA includes parking for 160 vehicles, and the WORA includes parking for 165 vehicles, and these parking lots are often at or near capacity during weekend summer days, with the WORA parking spaces often “turning over” once or twice throughout the day.  Other than drink vending machines (which sometimes do not function properly), there are currently no food sales available at these facilities.

The proposed framework was developed by me and Alesia Sanderson, Parks and Recreation Director, after significant input from others, including a special meeting with interested Emerald Isle food businesses on December 16.  Mayor Barber, Commissioner Dooley, Commissioner Normile, Alesia Sanderson, and I met with several businesses to discuss various issues associated with the program, and much of that input has been incorporated into the proposed framework.  It is important to note that the proposed framework is based on the following goals, and all components of the plan reflect these goals:

  • offer additional convenience to guests of the two regional beach access facilities by offering meals and dessert foods for purchase on-site,
  • provide additional business opportunities for Emerald Isle food businesses,
  • provide a fair opportunity for all Emerald Isle food businesses to participate, and
  • generate additional revenue for future enhancement of the two regional beach access facilities.

It is important to note that this program is intended to provide additional opportunities for Emerald Isle food businesses only, and would not allow food businesses that do not have a “brick and mortar” presence in Emerald Isle to participate in this program, at least during the first year.  If there is insufficient interest from Emerald Isle food businesses during the first year and/or the Board wishes to expand the program in future years, arrangements can be made to invite food businesses from outside our community to participate.  For 2016, however, the program is proposed to be open only to Emerald Isle food businesses.  Based on the criteria in the attached document, we believe that the following existing food businesses would be eligible:

  • Jackie’s American Grille
  • Lazzara’s Pizza
  • Village Ice Cream and Candies
  • EI Wine Market
  • Speedway
  • Ice cream shop (at Holiday TravLPark)
  • El Zarape
  • 4Js Coffee Shop and Bakery
  • Stir It Up Coffee Shop
  • Food Lion
  • Hwy 55 Burgers
  • Rucker Johns
  • Shark’s Den
  • Michaelangelo’s Pizza
  • Yeti Ice
  • Poppa’s Candy Cupboard (Grandma’s ToyBox)
  • Flipperz
  • Emerald Grill
  • K&V One Stop
  • Mike’s Place (successor restaurant)
  • Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream
  • Dairy Queen
  • Sweet Spot Ice Cream
  • Great Wall Chinese
  • Plaza Mexico
  • Jordan’s Seafood
  • New donut shop (near Bogue Inlet Pier)
  • Shaved ice shop (near Bogue Inlet Pier)
  • Kathryn’s Bistro
  • BP / Pizza Inn
  • ChowdaHeads Restaurant
  • Village Market
  • Circle Pizza
  • Flip Flops Market.

The Board should note that additional restaurants, convenience stores, ice cream shops, or other dessert providers could become eligible in the future if / when they open in Emerald Isle.  Although I believe the list above includes all eligible food businesses currently in operation (or planned) in Emerald Isle, please note that we may have inadvertently overlooked a business.

The attached document includes the other details of the program, however, I want to call the Board’s attention to a few key details:

  • the program is for food only, although incidental sunblock, sunglasses, lip balm, etc. products could also be sold by the vendor if they currently offer those products at their “brick and mortar” location,
  • all eligible businesses must apply by February 29, 2016 to be considered for the 2016 summer season; any business that does not apply by that date will need to wait until the 2017 application period (likely in February 2017),
  • we envision two vendors operating at the EORA and two vendors operating at the WORA at a time, with one selling “meals” (i.e., sandwiches, pizza, etc.) and one selling “desserts” (ice cream, cookies, etc.); therefore, on any given day there may be a total of 4 vendors operating,
  • the vendors would set up in grassy areas at the EORA and the WORA, and no sales, advertising, or delivery would be allowed on the beach strand,
  • vendors could sell product from a vehicle, tent, table, or other acceptable method, provided they have the applicable Federal, State, and/or local food permits
  • the vendors would be charged $50 per day for Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, and $25 per day for Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays; these fees would be payable to the Town on the first day of each month for the days the vendor intends to set up during that month,
  • the selected vendors will be identified no later than March 31, 2016, and (ideally) Town staff will establish the summer 2016 schedule at that time, in conjunction with the selected vendors, in a manner that provides an equal number of “prime” days for each vendor (if the response is greater than anticipated, Town staff will utilize a lottery procedure to allocate the “prime” days),
  • assuming a total of 14 weeks, with 4 vendors operating on the 3 “prime” days each week, the Town would generate a total of $8,400 of additional revenue; if 4 vendors also operate for 14 weeks on the other 4 days of the week, the Town would generate an additional $5,600 of revenue,
  • recognizing that not every vendor “slot” will be filled each day, a conservative revenue estimate for the new program would be $6,000 - $8,000 annually,
  • any new revenue would be earmarked for future capital improvements at the EORA (a new shade pavilion?) and the WORA (a new concert stage?).

If the Board is comfortable with proposed framework, we will solicit applications from Emerald Isle food businesses during January and February and proceed as outlined.  I envision Town staff selecting the vendors sometime in March in order to provide ample time to meet with the selected vendors to plan the 2016 schedule and allow the vendors to prepare to begin sales in May 2016.  If the Board is not comfortable with the proposed framework, please identify any areas that you believe need revision, and we will proceed as expeditiously as possible to implement the program for this summer.

Alesia Sanderson and I look forward to discussing this issue with the Board at the January 12 meeting.