Wildwood seeks food vendors for south end beach

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Photo by Bill Barlow/ Beachgoers have to trek 1,700 feet to get to the water's edge in Wildwood. Photo by Bill Barlow/ Beachgoers have to trek 1,700 feet to get to the water's edge in Wildwood.

WILDWOOD—With a beach that stretches about 1,700 feet to the ocean, making the trek to Wildwood’s boardwalk for lunch can be an inconvenience for beachgoers, especially those sunbathing near the southern end of the city. 

This week, city officials have designated two areas for vendors to offer food on Wildwood’s beach, a move they say will benefit visitors and add to city coffers.

“The beach is so big, we’re just looking for more ways to make it inviting,” Commissioner Pete Byron, who oversees the department of revenue and finance, said Friday.

The commissioners unanimously voted Jan. 22 to approve bid specifications for proposals on the food vending contract, which are set to begin during the 2014 season.

Byron said the board is looking to see stands that are tropical themed, and bit more upscale than the average beach fare.

“We didn’t want to have what you typically see at the end of the streets in the shore areas,” he said, such as carts that only offer hot dogs and pretzels. “We want that concept, but to be a little nicer and appealing to the eye.”

The units have to be self-contained, Byron said. So, whatever offerings a potential food vendor can sustain there will be considered. Ice cream, alcohol, tobacco, magazines, suntan lotion or sunscreen, and “any item that may appear to be offensive towards beachgoers” are not permitted, according to the bid specifications.

Right now, there are two possible locations up for grabs and Byron said the same vendor may occupy both, if the proposal is a fit.

The locations chosen for the city were also selected at Rio Grande and Leaming avenues, areas where there are no restaurants or businesses on the boardwalk for a few blocks north or south.

“The idea is to put them where it wouldn’t be threatening to the established businesses on the boardwalk,” Byron said. “At the south end of the boardwalk, we don’t really have anything, except Ocean Towers. People going [to the vendors] would not be taking that long walk to Ocean Towers.”

The Ocean Towers complex is at the boardwalk’s southernmost streets, and has a handful of retail and food service businesses.

The food vendors would set up about 750 feet away from the boardwalk at Rio Grande and Leaming avenues in a 25-foot-by-25-foot space next to the city’s wooden walkways, according to the bid specifications.

The money the city sees from these vendors’ contracts could be included as revenue in the city’s 2014 budget, as long as the contract is in place before the budget is introduced. If it comes after that, Byron said the funds will be surplus. The city may also see new revenue from beach events and concerts, a beach bar, and other offerings on the beach this year.

“The great thing is, we’re bringing new opportunity for the city to produce new revenue and be a better convenience for the people who visit here,” Byron said.

Proposals are due to the city by Feb. 19. The contract will be in effect from Memorial Day to Sept. 21 with the possible opportunity to run for the same dates in 2015.

Email Christie Rotondo at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or comment on this story at thewildwoodleader.com.

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