New Management at Beach Canteen Planned

Over the last two years, the Victoria Park Beach Canteen has been operated by the owners of Market and Smor, the downtown boutique greengrocer, but for 2020, a new operator is being sought. As well as the canteen operation, there were four weekends in 2018 and two in 2019 when the nearby “courtyard” was used for licensed events with entertainment.  The Town deemed them a success and has seemingly prompted a suggestion that the new Canteen operator might also offer a licensed service (presumably beer and wine and in the Courtyard). The RFP issued by the Town on 21 February says that they “will consider alcohol as part of this RFP. The Town of Cobourg is open to all ideas for providing the food and beverage service for Victoria Park. The successful proponent may offer to sell alcohol on site throughout the season.”

Courtyard-15 July 2018
Courtyard – 15 July 2018

The RFP asks proponents to make offers that can be a flat fee or a share of the profit.  Although the previous operator had a profit share contract, no details of their gross sales, fee paid or any other details have been made public so proponents would need to estimate based on their experience in the business.  And that’s the other thing that’s emphasized in the RFP – anyone making a proposal must be experienced in this type of business. Proponents are asked to provide a list of “references of similar services provided”.

Other notable requirements are:

  • A mandatory Proponents’ Meeting: Tuesday March 3, 10:00 a.m. Victoria Park Canteen when the premises would be shown and all details made clear.
  • The contract will be for a term of 3 years with an option to renew for an additional 2 years based on mutual agreement.  However, the RFP asks proponents if they would like a different term.
  • Expected minimum hours are the same as previously: 7 days a week, from May 24th (Victoria Day) weekend to Labour Day, from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Hours may be extended based on weather and events.
  • Special event organizers may bring in their own food vendors for the duration of their events.
  • All staff members employed by the Contractor must be dressed in suitable approved uniforms. All uniforms must be kept neat and clean. The staff must be qualified and experienced in the food and beverage industry and have good public relations skills.
  • The contract will be for 3 years with an option to renew for 2 more.

It’s implied that proponents may modify the building and add signage. It seems that the Town may be hoping for a proposal from a major vendor of food and beverage operations.  They distributed RFP’s to possible vendors although their names were not made public.

Bids close on March 10, 2020 and it’s planned to award a contract in April 2020.

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Johanne
5 March 2020 1:52 pm

Excellent business with dedicated people with a sunny side disposition. (This is not usual for this town.) Not only they are helpful but they are knowledgeable on high end cheeses from France, oils, gourmet foods and food for your health as an aging community. it means healthy food, probiotic food, fresh food, marinated ones. Etc… and they drive from afar. They have a unique and tasteful European style I admire. Welcome to Cobourg!

Frenchy
Reply to  Johanne
5 March 2020 3:03 pm

Couldn’t agree more with you Johanne and for those reasons they will probably do well in Cobourg. I wish them the best of luck.
But… we’re talking about a beach canteen here with thousands of hungry tourists. How many of them are looking for healthy, probiotic, fresh, marinated food? People want fries, street meat and the like. It’s easy for our visitors to pack some homemade salads in their coolers but not so easy to get a hot slice of pizza, hotdog or a grilled/fried hamburger. One of our contributors on this blog told a story about a visiting family that went up the street to get several pizzas, but we never heard if they stopped at the canteen to get a salad to go with them.
I’ll wager you could sell more cold pop (even though it’s not very good for you) than hot gourmet coffee on the beach in July.

Johanne
Reply to  Frenchy
5 March 2020 3:58 pm

Fast food Frenchy is fast food for a fast life. We both know that! I believe I had a few meals from their caravan (Smør) and their fast food menu had colourful and tasty wraps, pops, fruit drinks and sweet potatoes fries. Different from the tradirional press rat served since the last 30 years..you may say… innovation is interesting, health comes first with education, as cancer is increasing and hits younger and younger people all the time. Vegetable burgers ok, frying is not so healthy so other ways to cook are explored from people studying that balance of taste, presentation and health. Let’s hope for a better future.

Observer
Reply to  Johanne
5 March 2020 7:49 pm

So Johanne – how do they make their sweet potato fries if you say you don’t like frying? Vegetable burgers – Tim Horton’s – took them off the menu – they weren’t selling. Press rat? Is that a typo? As I view my neighbours I see them carrying in and having delivered pizza, kentucky fried, Little Caesars by the ton – so I guess the vendor will have to think very carefully about what to offer. My suggestion of a fresh salad made with local summer tomatoes and fresh mint vingarette – very healthy has so far got two thumbs down.

Johanne
Reply to  Frenchy
5 March 2020 4:38 pm

When you will get your first colonoscopy, you’ll be on the radar too!!😱🥬🥦🍏

Rob
5 March 2020 9:34 am

What about moving off the canteen idea all together and open food service up to various food trucks…you could offer different and authentic ethnic foods and get out of the food business completely. Could consider repurposing the existing canteen space with smaller vendors, towels, sunscreen, freezies, tourist paraphernalia, buskers, art displays and maybe on special occasions licensed it….

Johanne
Reply to  Rob
5 March 2020 4:24 pm

Food trucks are a disaster to undermine established businesses, they are paying big tax dollars. Food trucks are great near a village with tents and caravans, cliffs and mountains. You, as a taxpayer have the responsibility to preserve your tax dollars and mine. Your downtown is not exactly prosperous, the malls either. Good planning means trying to fill in the empty spaces, not to free more. Now restaurants…

We have already midtown tea room transforming the town hall into a cactus nightmare. His taxes, and other empty businesses , should be increased if he doesnt keep his business active with proper standards in our downtown prime location. Your memory of this town as a tourist is not terrific : a great beach, weird food, no specialty, big prices, lots of vacancy and trinkets to sell. That’s all!

Frenchy
Reply to  Johanne
5 March 2020 5:07 pm

Huh?

Frenchy
5 March 2020 8:39 am

Why go through this exercise every 2-3 years? How much time does this chew up for staff and council?
If we want to monetize the beach and Victoria Park, why don’t we (The Town) take over running the canteen and keep all the profits? We already run the canteens at Legion Fields and the CCC (used to at Donegan Park), so why not Victoria Park?
Serve up what the masses want (Observer has a few menu suggestions below [could throw in corn dogs – yum]) and keep all the money.
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Observer
Reply to  Frenchy
5 March 2020 1:10 pm

Been waiting to hear menu suggestions – could be very helpful to the next vendor. A mixed menu – As suggestions I made before – on healthy side – how about a boneless chicken breast nicely herbed accompanied by a refreshing salad of summer tomatoes, crispy iceberg and a Fresh Mint Vinargrette? They could buy them from the Farmers’ Market here perhaps under contract for a commercial purchase price. So nice too – summer fresh tomato topped on other offerings. Other things people would like?

JimT
27 February 2020 9:05 pm

That “line up and wait your turn at the little window” has got to be improved on. Worst possible way to treat a customer. Even The Pav in years gone by was better – it had open sides where you could stand and peruse the menu board and prices while waiting your turn.
At least the latest version had refrigerated cases out front where you could just pick-and-pay with no lineup for that.

perplexed
27 February 2020 8:29 am

Yes those diminishing Cash profits are very hard to share in but the most of the small store and restaurant owners already know that . So unless the town and tax payers are operating the Till I would be going with a flat rate plus utility and of course the operator should have their own insurance now that Liquor is involved .

Frenchy
Reply to  perplexed
27 February 2020 2:04 pm

” Although the previous operator had a profit share contract, no details of their gross sales, fee paid or any other details have been made public”
Remember that part of the sales pitch from last time that we would have complete and open access to the books anytime we wanted to? We bought it, hook, line and sinker.
Flat rate for sure! Up front would be a good idea too as the last guys were always late with their payments.

Gerald Childs
Reply to  Frenchy
28 February 2020 11:51 am

Do you have any citations that show your statement; “Up front (sic) would be a good idea too as the last guys were always late with their payments.” is correct.

Frenchy
Reply to  Gerald Childs
28 February 2020 12:07 pm

Gerald, yes, telephone conversations with two very reliable sources.

Gerald Childs
Reply to  Frenchy
28 February 2020 12:12 pm

Thank you for your reply. I was looking for detailed documentation that one could see for themselves that the previous licensee was late in making their payments.

Frenchy
Reply to  Gerald Childs
28 February 2020 2:49 pm

Can’t you just take my word for it?

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Gerald Childs
29 February 2020 12:13 pm

It’s easy, Gerald, for pseudonyms to cast aspersions against others and use anonymous ‘sources‘ to do so. It’s a breeding ground for malicious gossipers.

Frenchy
Reply to  Wally Keeler
29 February 2020 1:34 pm

OK Gerald, Wally and the other 8 thumbs down, here you go. I don’t have bank records or deposit slips or anything like that, but if you really need it, I have this correspondence from Ian Davey (who at the time was Cobourg’s Director of Corporate Services – otherwise known as the Finance Director) on the subject. Ian is one of the sources I alluded to earlier. My other source was Lucas Cleveland, but it was only a phone call – nothing in writing and we only talked about rent for 2018 season. If he remembers the call, I’m sure he’ll verify it took place. Give him a call and find out for yourself. The following will give you dates for 2017 and 2018 seasons. I have no idea when rent for 2019 was, or even if it has been paid yet. emails are in reverse chronological order, and might have to be spread over 3 posts due to length. On Feb 14, 2019, at 9:47 AM, Ian Davey wrote: Frenchy, Here is the information that I have to date. We received $10,000 on August 23, 2018 which is $8,850 after deducting hst. Balance owing for 2018 is a matter… Read more »

Frenchy
Reply to  Frenchy
29 February 2020 1:39 pm

part deux Begin forwarded message: From: Ian Davey Subject: RE: Victoria Park Canteen Date: January 16, 2019 at 12:37:49 PM EST To: Frenchy Frenchy, I will look into this again and get back to you. Ian From: Frenchy Sent: January 16, 2019 8:57 AM To: Ian Davey Subject: Fwd: Victoria Park Canteen Hey Ian, As a follow up to last weeks email re: revenue generated by the Victoria Park canteen, which was a follow up to last July’s discussion re: the same. Any news? — Frenchy Begin forwarded message: From: Frenchy Subject: Re: Victoria Park Canteen Date: January 9, 2019 at 1:01:35 PM EST To: Ian Davey Hey Ian, As a follow up to our exchange last July, how did we do with revenue generated by the canteen? Can I assume that between the weenie cart, taco stand, canteen and great weather we had a banner year? — Frenchy On Jul 9, 2018, at 11:51 AM, Ian Davey wrote: Frenchy, Just following up on your recent questions about the Victoria Park Canteen agreement. The reason that the rent was reduced from $20,000 to $18,000 was that there was significant work required prior to the start of last summer to get… Read more »

Frenchy
Reply to  Frenchy
29 February 2020 1:40 pm

part trois

As to the budget numbers, I agree that $17,700 would have been the correct number, a difference of $210. Based on the results to date and the much better start in terms of weather, we anticipate that we should well exceed the budget number of $17,490 in 2018.
Ian

Ian D. Davey, BBA CPA CA
Treasurer / Director of Corporate Services
55 King Street W
Cobourg, ON K9A 2M2

Good enough for you guys?

For all you “thumbs downers”… don’t be too quick pulling the trigger on that icon.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Frenchy
29 February 2020 3:32 pm

That is all that Gerald Childs was asking for, some kind of substantiation.

Frenchy
Reply to  Wally Keeler
29 February 2020 7:13 pm

I gave him my word.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Frenchy
29 February 2020 9:45 pm

You think everyone should trust a pseudonym?

Frenchy
Reply to  Wally Keeler
1 March 2020 7:47 pm

I trust you and you use a pseudonym.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Frenchy
1 March 2020 10:08 pm

I certainly do not trust you and Wally Keeler is not a pseudonym.

Frenchy
Reply to  Wally Keeler
4 March 2020 3:46 pm

I never said Wally Keeler was a pseudonym (better re-read my post), I said you use one.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Frenchy
4 March 2020 4:49 pm

I never suggested that you had done any such thing. (better re-read my post), I asserted “Wally Keeler is not a pseudonym.

Say your last word because I am weary of your pettiness.

Observer
26 February 2020 11:57 pm

For me on a nice day at the beach I’ld like cold fried chicken, potato salad or choice of fries – sweet potato perhaps? Hot dog – a well made hamburger, ever had the ones at the Port Hope Drive in? Delicious. Nice location, hope the prices don’t price me out!

Frenchy
Reply to  Observer
28 February 2020 10:47 pm

All those down votes must be from the vegetarians Observer.

Observer
Reply to  Frenchy
3 March 2020 3:05 pm

Well 10 like the suggestion – haven’t seen any other suggestions of what the down voters would like – “Come and get your hot dog ….. ge ge getem while their hot!”

Elaine
Reply to  Frenchy
4 March 2020 11:12 am

Or maybe from those of us who are not “vegetarian” but like to eat healthy foods?

Frenchy
Reply to  Elaine
4 March 2020 11:30 am

It was only meant as a joke Elaine. My feeble attempt at some humour.

Observer
Reply to  Elaine
4 March 2020 2:42 pm

The last operator served healthy food – apparently they couldn’t make a go of it.

Canuck Patriot
Reply to  Observer
4 March 2020 3:03 pm

I somehow think the flooded beach had a lot to do with their poor sales, which contributed to late rental payments.

Frenchy
Reply to  Canuck Patriot
4 March 2020 3:31 pm

Flooded beach or not, they made enough to make a payment. It was just late. 2017 and 2018 (no flooding).

Elaine
Reply to  Observer
9 March 2020 3:30 pm

Not true. They did very well. They has a contract and used the time to promote their healthy store, which is also doing very well.

Observer
Reply to  Elaine
9 March 2020 4:45 pm

Wouldn’t know Elaine how they are doing. Hopefully well but the store is so empty when I go by. As for the Beach Canteen if doing so well why did they give it up? Usually going concerns are kept and there has been no public financial accounting and one blogger states they were late with their payment, even without floods?

Observer
Reply to  Elaine
9 March 2020 4:56 pm

Also remember Elaine I suggested a mixed menu – just like they had before with their Chip truck but this time offer a mixed menu at the Canteen so people can decide what they wish to eat. I simply asked for suggestions but find people that push one choice on me only closed minded.