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With Encinitas’ 4.8-million-dollar rehabilitation of Moonlight Beach and its facilities expected to open in just a few months, one of the final tasks is to choose a concessionaire to operate the food stand and beach-equipment sales and rentals.

On February 26, the city released a 32-page request for proposal. Proposal packages are due back to the city by April 1.

On March 19, the city invited any interested parties to a pre-proposal walk-through meeting at the still-under-construction facility. Eleven possible applicants showed up to ask questions about construction schedules, descriptions of operations, and the city’s preferred terms and conditions.

Representatives from several area restaurants showed up: Dog House Dinner, the Roxy, Java Hut Coffee, and Starkey’s BBQ. They are looking to expand their market to a captive beach audience. (The nearest convenience store or fast-food restaurant is four blocks away on D St. at Coast Hwy.)

The site’s former concessionaire, which operated until the beach’s closing in September 2012, is expected to present a proposal. Notably absent, to the surprise of some, were the corporate fast-food players that are always looking to expand non-traditional restaurant locations.

McDonald’s held two concessions on the beach in Oceanside: one under the pier and the other at Harbor Beach (both have since closed). Burger King operates a concession at the Oceanside transit center.

The city’s RFP calls for an annual lease payment of $30,000 or 15 percent of gross receipts, whichever is greater. The report mentions the four large-attendance Moonlight Beach events, including the Switchfoot Bro-Am Surf Contest and the Wavecrest Woodie Car Show. Those events draw a combined attendance of 17,000 people.

However, the report also points out a 15 percent decline in sales revenue between 2009 and 2011, even though reporting a steady 1.5 million beach visitors a year. The new concessionaire also must agree to serve  a “reasonably priced menu containing popular, healthy, freshly prepared items.”

Additionally they should offer for sale, “sunscreen, lip balm, hats, visors, beach towels, Frisbees, kites, volleyballs, beach balls, footballs, picnic/beach games.” Although a new 870-square-foot building will be provided, the concessionaire must add much of the infrastructure: cooking and food-storage equipment, displays and counters.

Within 30 days of awarding the contract, concessionaires must be able to hire a staff, obtain insurance and a performance bond, and all necessary health and construction permits.

The city would prefer the concessionaire operate seven days a week, dawn to dusk. In reality, any concessionaire will have only four summer months of beach-going weather to produce a profit. Not many folks buy food or rent surfboards with misty, cloud-covered skies.

Included in the renovation project are replacement of restrooms and showers, expansion of parking areas and landscaping, updating the lifeguard tower, the addition of a view deck on top of a new garage to store rescue vehicles, additional picnic tables and fire rings, and sand replenishment. The beach’s renovations are not expected to be ready for beachgoers until after the Memorial Day weekend.

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