City awards beach food contracts
A food fight on South Lake Tahoe beaches that included claims of cronyism has, at least temporarily, been resolved.
On Friday, city staff awarded short-term contracts for food and beverage service at Regan Beach and Lakeview Commons. Lake Taco will continue to operate at Regan Beach, while Free Bird cafe will be the concessionaire for Lakeview Commons through the summer, according to city officials.
A new request for the proposal process will take place in the fall for a five-year contract to provide food and beverage services at the beaches.
City staff rejected all bids received under the existing request for proposals because of flaws in the process, said city spokeswoman Nancy Kerry. A Friday special City Council meeting to discuss the contracts was canceled after city staff approved the short-term deals.
City Manager Tony O’Rourke was able to award the contracts without City Council approval because they will not cost the city more than $30,000, said City Attorney Patrick Enright. The city will earn money through the concessionaire contracts, Enright added.
Approving contracts quick enough to allow food and beverage services to be in place for the busy Memorial Day Weekend was a concern for both City Council members and city staff.
“The issue was ‘who was going to do it for the next 30 days?'” Kerry said.
Ryan Payne, the owner of Energy Drink Outlet and a bidder on the concessionaire contract for Regan Beach and Lakeview Commons, said the selection of Lake Taco was laced with favoritism because the committee that made recommendations to the city about who should run the Regan Beach restaurant included people with personal relationships to Lake Taco.
“It seems that cronyism is alive and well in South Lake Tahoe,” Payne said Friday.
He said his contract to return to operate the snack shack at Bijou Community Park has not been renewed. He has concerns that he will not be given the contract because of his criticism of the bidding process on the beach contracts.
Several people came out in support of Lake Taco at Tuesday’s City Council meeting and accused unsuccessful bidders of “digging up dirt” on Lake Taco.
The city plans on implementing more specific standards to alleviate concerns of favoritism and cronyism in the upcoming request for proposal process for food service at the beaches, Enright said. He added that, because people’s taste in food is individual, bidding on a concessionaire’s contract will always be somewhat subjective. The new standards will be as objective as possible, Enright said.
Both Lake Taco and Free Bird should be up and running by the Memorial Day Weekend, according to Enright.