Could a restaurant-type food concession be in the near future for Cape Henlopen State Park?
Possibly. The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control's Division of Parks and Recreation is bidding out concession services at four state parks. In the bid package for the Cape park, “the division is open to value-added proposals, which may include capital improvements and/or new opportunities or enhancements for a food concession in a restaurant-like environment.”
The three other parks included in the request for proposals are Delaware Seashore State Park’s Tower Road Ocean concession; Fenwick Island State Park concession; and Killens Pond State Park water park concession.
At Cape Henlopen State Park, the vendor must provide rentals of beach chairs and beach umbrellas.
The concession area at the bathhouse and beach access at the Cape Henlopen park is currently operated by JV Catering. Concession items include fast-food choices and drinks with an all-you-can eat option for beachgoers.
Over the past nine years, state parks officials have entered into agreements with restaurateurs to open two restaurants in Delaware Seashore State Park. Hammerheads Dockside, which opened in May 2013, is located along the docks of the Indian River Marina.
Big Chill Beach Club, which opened in summer 2017, is located on the dune line adjacent to Indian River Inlet. The restaurant is operated by La Vida Hospitality, which also provides catering and operates Taco Reho, Crooked Hammock, Fork+Flask, and Big Chill Surf Cantina, all in the Lewes-Rehoboth Beach area. The Beach Club facility is also a wedding and events venue.
The deadline for bidders to respond is Thursday, Feb. 24.
Cape Henlopen State Park, the most visited park in the state system, offers a variety of activities and venues including the Fort Miles Museum and Historical Area, camping, a nature center, fishing pier, free loaner bikes, rental options, surf-fishing drive-on areas, numerous programs, kayak rentals, a fishing store, and paved and unpaved trails. The 5,193-acre park, opened in 1964, has a unique history which includes a military presence for nearly 100 years. It's also located along the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay.
A 2017 report found that more than 1.3 million people visited the park, with another 1 million visiting Delaware Seashore State Park. The two parks also provide the most revenue of any Delaware state parks, accounting for nearly 50 percent of all spending by visitors. The report noted that visitors spent more than $173 million at Delaware Seashore, which also offers a large marina, followed by Cape Henlopen at more than $128 million.