By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
A few notes today, following up on our reports the past two days about the city Parks and Recreation Department changing concessionaires at Seacrest Boathouse – awarding the contract to Marination, whose proposal, the city says, outscored the one submitted by longtime operator Alki Crab and Fish.
First: Information we’d been pursuing since yesterday, when we asked Parks what happens next, and whether there’s any place for public comment in the official process. Parks spokesperson Dewey Potter sent the official policy – see it here – and adds:
Parks followed the steps in our policy and went beyond that by meeting with both of the top two proposers. These meetings did not change the scores or the outcome.
In response to the protest letter, which Parks received late yesterday, Parks will take these steps:
• Respond to the protest letter.
• Develop criteria, based on the business objectives outlined in the request for proposals, for evaluating the protest.
• Create a review panel of people (different from the original proposal reviewers), comprised of a representative of the Department of Neighborhoods, a representative of the Board of Park Commissioners, and the Acting Parks and Recreation Superintendent.
• Set up time for the review panel to evaluate the protest based on the established criteria.
• Set up a meeting with Alki Fish and Crab to go over their findings and decision.
• Ensure the review panel has all of the input received up to the date of their meeting.
It’s important to note that this is a business process for Parks and Recreation based on business objectives (included in the Request for Proposals) designed to meet Parks’ business needs and based on City law and policy.
So bottom line, no. The contract does require final approval by the City Council, though.
If you are just catching up, Alki Crab and Fish’s contract with the city expired last summer. The city put out a “request for proposals” (RFP), and the result was a decision to award the contract to Marination, which came to fame two and a half years ago with its food truck, and has since also opened a bricks-and-mortar restaurant in Capitol Hill. We have numerous details in our report from yesterday, including links to both companies’ proposal documents. Supporters of both also have started online petitions – the one for Alki Crab and Fish fans is here, Marination fans here – and ACF supporters in the diving community, which uses Seacrest extensively, are planning a low-key rally this Saturday at noon between Seacrest and Salty’s, according to local diver Laura James, who says they are trying hard not to tie up traffic or cause trouble near the boathouse, so they are asking participants to park either south of Salty’s or up around Duwamish Head.
And a new development – just as we were finishing this story, we received e-mail from Marination, with whom we had exchanged notes previously for a short comment published in yesterday’s story. They sent a statement that follows, explaining their intent, and their surprise at how this has unfolded:
We are saddened and shocked by the developments regarding Seacrest. A few days ago we privately rejoiced to learn that after a thorough RFP process, we’d won the contract against other new bidders for a space we’ve long coveted. We worked diligently on our RFP proposal to put our best foot forward. We’ve dreamt of operating in that glorious location countless times. We had not the slightest clue of what would erupt, earning us misguided public anger online, and delivered to our company email addresses.
Plain and simple: We are not pushing Alki Fish & Crab out of business. To say otherwise is not only hurtful, but patently false; beyond ludicrous. We operate with an ethos of unwavering support for local small business.
Based on the public information we were provided in the RFP, we imagined AFC would let their contract expire, and we were excited at a rare chance to earn it. The information that helped us make the decision to take a run at the RFP contract is a matter of public record — and it looks like this:
FINANCIAL HISTORY LAST FIVE (5) YEARS GROSS SALES AND EXPENSES
Gross Sales Expenses
2006 $665,972 $655,790
2007 $815,672 $738,632
2008 $753,319 $867,700
2009 $736,159 $882,900
2010 $640,536 $871,000
We interpret this to mean that their financial operations have looked like this:
2006 $10,000 profit
2007 $77,000 profit
2008 $114,000 loss
2009 $146,000 loss
2010 $230,000 loss
Given the apparent $490,000 loss in the past three years, the loss amount increasing not decreasing, and the requested commission rate doubling from 5% to 10%, we couldn’t imagine the current operator would want to sign on for another 10 years managing the property. We thought our competition would be limited to other new bidders like ourselves.
So we worked really hard to deliver a strong proposal to the Parks department, and were awarded the contract.
As we’ve said before, we completely respect Alki Fish & Crab’s desire to protest the decision. We also respect the emotions running high in a tight knit community. We love & thank the WestSeattleBlog for keeping everyone (including us!) up-to-date on the latest in this matter.
But most of all, we’d like to send out massive aloha to the legions of friends and supporters who have shared our joy at the opportunity to open our people-loving business in this iconic location. We promise to make y’all proud.
Yours in good eats,
Kamala Saxton & Roz Edison