Lewes says no to expanding beach concessions

Existing businesses to continue to offer services
May 28, 2019

New beach chair and umbrella vendors will not be allowed to set up on Lewes Beach this summer.

Matt Carter of Quest Adventures had sought to rent chairs, umbrellas and other items on the beach, similar to what’s offered by Catts-Lynam in Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach.

Carter has a rental shack on Savannah Road near Beacon Motel and in summer spends hours each day delivering chairs, umbrellas, kayaks, paddleboards and other items to all points of Lewes Beach. 

“I am already delivering probably 30 to 40 truckloads a day,” Carter said. Those deliveries will be allowed to continue, officials said.

Carter said there are times when he cannot deliver beach supplies due to traffic, so having a location on the beach could save time, reduce traffic and offer a valuable service.

Alison Kirk, the city’s parks and marina administrator, held a workshop April 5 to seek public input on beach concessions. In addition to chairs and umbrellas, the discussion covered additional food and drink vendors and more beach-related supplies, such as towels and sunscreen. She followed it up with an online survey, and presented the results at council’s May 13 meeting.

Kirk said 32 percent of respondents said they would support beach and umbrella rentals at Beach 2, but another 32 percent would not support anything. Most responders frequent Beach 1, followed by Roosevelt Inlet, residential street beaches and Beach 2.

The most frequented business on the beach is Dairy Queen, with 60 percent of responders often patronizing the shop. That’s followed by the Daily Market, Two Dips and the Lions Club shack.

Councilwoman Bonnie Osler said she received pages of comments from the public. The majority were against expanded concessions.

“I have no desire to see Lewes’ beach area become a whore to commercialization,” was one comment Osler highlighted.  Another was, “Don’t make it the Jersey Shore.”

“The people who chose to provide comments were quite emphatic in saying they like the beach the way it is,” she said.

Resident Mary Roth offered council a different opinion. She said the expansion of trails in Lewes provides great opportunity for people to ride their bicycles or walk to the beach. If chair and umbrella vendors were available, she said, people could leave their vehicles at home.

“It’s a way to get people out and about outside their cars,” she said.

Kirk’s survey found 71 percent of people drive to the beach, while the rest walk or ride.

Deputy Mayor Fred Beaufait said he understands the need to reduce what people bring to the beach, but doesn’t think adding concessions is a good idea.

“Lewes Beach is very unique in that it’s a family beach,” he said. “I worry we become a cluttered beach.”

He said is is also concerned about adding unnecessary competition for long-standing existing businesses on Savannah Road.

Mayor Ted Becker said the idea warrants further consideration. He encouraged Carter to collect information this summer, so council can reconsider the issue again in the fall.

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