DRBA seeks proposals by June 21 for food, retail operations in Lewes

Public-private alliance to begin by 2020 summer season
May 8, 2019

Delaware River and Bay Authority officials recently announced the decision to seek proposals from qualified food and retail concessionaires to redevelop, reposition and operate the existing restaurant and associated facilities and venues located at the Cape May-Lewes Ferry Terminal in Lewes.

The process, which may include site tours for interested private operators and a request for qualifications application, is expected to take a year. The goal of the RFQ process is to enter into a public-private partnership to operate the food and retail business at the Lewes Ferry Terminal in time for the 2020 peak summer season.

“The ferry is very important to the tourism economy of the resort communities on both sides of the Delaware Bay, and we want to make sure our customer experience is the best it can be,” said Heath Gehrke, director of ferry operations. “Our business has been growing, and our food service is highly rated by our customers, but we think that a public-private partnership can make the operation even better. We hope to find a partner with a strong strength of brand and proven track record in the restaurant business who can take our food and retail venue at the Lewes Terminal to the next level.”

RFQ responses from qualified hospitality operators are due by Friday, June 21. The RFQ process does not apply to the food and retail operations on the ferry passenger vessels or the Cape May Ferry Terminal concession operations.

The Lewes food and retail operation employs three permanent employees and a significant number of seasonal employees during the summer season. The DRBA has met with the affected permanent employees to explain the process and the options available. “We value our food and retail employees’ consistent dedication to serving our customers and their personal contributions to the authority, and we will work with them to make the transition as seamless as possible,” Gehrke said, adding that fair, equitable treatment of the affected employees will always be a top priority.

The restaurant at the Lewes Terminal currently features approximately 158 indoor and 221 outdoor seats – all offering panoramic views of the Delaware Bay and adjacent ferry terminal. The restaurant and outdoor space are extremely popular with ferry passengers, visitors and local residents. The concession partner will also have access to separate outdoor event space on the terminal grounds where a number of special events occur during the year, including live music festivals, weddings and social events.

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