The Children’s Beach concession stand will have a new operator in the spring, as the town is preparing to award a five-year lease for the municipal property next Wednesday following a bid opening earlier this month.
A proposal put forward by The Surf LLC, owned by Abby Shaw and Stacey MacEachern, was selected over the bid submitted by the current operator, Rebecca Chapa, who has run the concession as The Hungry Minnow since 2017.
Shaw and MacEachern also hold the lease for the Surfside Beach concession, which is operated as The Surf, although many people still call it the Surfside Beach Shack.
While they haven’t settled on a new name for the Children’s Beach concession just yet, Shaw said Thursday that the plan is to offer food similar to what they provide at Surfside, along with breakfast items, soft serve ice cream, knick knacks for kids, and beach chair rentals.
“We’re kind of shocked,” Shaw said of the news that they will be awarded the lease for the concession. “Stacey and I are super excited. We didn’t think we were going to get it. The menu will be similar to Surfside, and we want to bring back breakfast down there.”
The concession will reopen sometime around Memorial Day, Shaw said, and will be open everyday during the season with the hours likely to be 8 a.m. to sunset, although that isn’t yet final.
Shaw and MacEachern’s bid for the concession calls for them to pay the town $138,144 over the five-year lease (an average of $27,628 annually), plus 3 percent over any gross revenue above $100,000 each season. The Select Board will consider approving the lease next Wednesday evening at its regularly scheduled meeting.
For Chapa, the news that she would not be awarded the lease and or be able to continue operating The Hungry Minnow was disappointing, and she expressed frustration with the town’s process for reviewing the proposals.
“After you put five years of your life into something, I was really disappointed to hear that I didn’t get it,” Chapa said. “The process itself is flawed. I wish that they would think about giving the existing concessionaire the first right of refusal unless there’s something egregiously wrong, especially after the two years of COVID. That was not an option – I understand that’s the (state procurement) law, but it wasn’t even discussed.”
The process does appear to have been conducted differently than the recent RFP and bid review process for the Jetties Beach concession, which ultimately was awarded back in July to the current operator, The Sandbar. That process featured numerous public meetings of the Jetties Concession RFP Review Committee that were posted to the town’s YouTube page. It doesn’t appear as though the Children’s Beach concession process was conducted in that fashion, Chapa said.
“I’m just bummed about the whole process and the transparency of it,” Chapa said. “There was a whole committee created to discuss the recommendations for Jetties that was sent to the Select Board and that was voted on. The public was given the proposals. That was not part of the Children’s Beach concession. So I’m disappointed. It’s been a labor of love for five years.”
Chapa added that she will be holding a closing sale today at Children’s Beach from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to clear out all of her inventory.