RFP Going Out For Saquatucket Snack Shack

By: William F. Galvin

Topics: Saquatucket Harbor

The new snack shack building and deck at Saquatucket Harbor. WILLIAM F. GALVIN PHOTO

HARWICH — The town is looking for a food service business partner interested in leasing the snack shack at Saquatucket Harbor. Town Administrator Christopher Clark was putting the finishing touches on a request for proposals document this week and has an eye on awarding the lease by March 21.

Clark went over the RFP with selectmen last week and the board had several questions. Selectman Larry Ballantine wanted to know why it seeks a five-year lease and not the traditional three-year lease.

Harbormaster John Rendon, who admitted he's “not a restaurant guy, and had to do some research on developing the lease,” said whoever receives the lease will have to make a significant investment in equipment. Both Rendon and Clark pointed out the lessee would have to furnish the kitchen. Clark said that could be a $150,000 to $200,000 investment and there must be time to allow the leaseholder to recover that investment. The RFP also provides an option for an additional five-year extension, issued at the town's discretion.

The RFP objective is to solicit proposals which outline a plan for the operation of the snack shack for the sale of food, drinks, ice cream and seasonal sundry items (i.e. suntan lotion) at a reasonable rate with a fair and equitable return to the town of Harwich.

The RFP requires certain hours of operation at different times of year. They include service from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends from Memorial Day to the second weekend in June; 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week from the third weekend in June through the end of the month; and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week from July 1 through Labor Day. On weekends after Labor Day to Columbus Day, service must be provided from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The document seeks a resume from the person submitting the proposal with an emphasis on food service experience, a minimum of two years experience managing and operating a restaurant or concession stand with a gross income in excess of $150,000. Management experience of 10 years will be considered highly advantageous, five years advantageous and two to five years not advantageous.

The RFP requires an applicant to file a menu containing prices and includes a lengthy list of food requirements, such as lobster rolls, clam chowder, various fried foods, hot dogs and burgers, bacon sausage and eggs from the grill, rolls and sandwiches and healthy low-calorie options, cold and hot drinks and ice cream. The successful applicant can apply to the board of selectmen for a seasonal beer and wine license.

Selectman Donald Howell said the list of required food makes for a complicated menu, pointing out the snack shack is only a 500-square-foot structure. “I don't know any place three times the size that could maintain it. You couldn't keep it fresh,” Howell said.

Clark said the goal is to establish a minimum service. But Howell said the required food service could put off a number of potential bidders. The RFP should allow use of both fresh and frozen food products, he said.

Leo Cakounes agreed with Howell, adding when specifically listing the items as requirements, if something is left out of the list, under the state bid law it would not meet the conditions of the RFP. He recommended the food items be stated as a suggestion.

The financial bid package will also be graded, with the first five years with an annual payment of 15 percent of the gross annual receipts or $30,000, whichever is greater, considered highly advantageous. Five years and an annual payment of 10 percent of the gross receipts or $20,000 considered advantageous, and five years of annual payment and 8 percent of the gross annual receipts or $16,000 considered not advantageous.

The town will establish a three-member evaluation team and rank proposals on a point system.

Cakounes advised town officials not to get into a percentage take, recommending a fixed cost as a better approach. Howell wanted to know when payment would be made to the town. Rendon said with the percentage of gross, payment would be at the end of the season. Howell said in Orleans one of the five food trucks assigned to Nauset Beach did not pay at the end of the year.

Clark said that approached can be changed to require adjusted payments, with the final payment made at the end of the year. The RFP also identifies insurance policies and amount of coverage the successful applicant must have.

Clark said he would tweak the RFP and make minor adjustments. Selectmen approved the document based on those adjustments.