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DRBA Seeks Public-Private Partnership for Food & Retail Operations at Lewes Ferry Terminal
By JSalmon on 04/30/2019:  

DRBA Seeks Public-Private Partnership for Food & Retail Operations at Lewes Ferry Terminal
Hires REVPAR International Inc. to Assist with the Process

LEWES, Del. – Today, Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA) officials 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, Delaware. The process, which may include site tours for interested private operators and a request for qualifications (RFQ) 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.

According to Heath Gehrke, Director of Ferry Operations for the DRBA, the decision to seek a qualified private partner to operate the food and retail business at the Lewes Terminal was based on a number of factors. “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,” Gehrke said. “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 on Friday, June 21, 2019. 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 DRBA has retained REVPAR International, Inc. to consult and guide the agency through the RFQ Process. REVPAR International, Inc. is a full-service advisory and asset management firm exclusively dedicated to the hospitality and tourism industries. With corporate offices in Washington D.C., Miami and Denver, REVPAR has more than 25 years of experience as one of the industry's best known full-service advisory and asset management firms exclusively dedicated to the hospitality and tourism industries.

The Lewes food and retail operation employs 3 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 is extremely popular with both ferry passengers, visitors and local residents given its casual ambiance and unobstructed water views. 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.

The Cape May – Lewes Ferry began its operations on July 1, 1964. The service connects the resort communities of Cape May, NJ and Lewes, DE and traffic volume on the ferry operation fluctuate according to calendar year. In January 1996, the DRBA began operating its own concession business.

About the Delaware River and Bay Authority
The DRBA, a bi-state governmental agency created by Compact in 1962, owns and operates the Delaware Memorial Bridge, the Cape May- Lewes Ferry, and the Forts Ferry Crossing. The DRBA also manages corporate and aviation properties through its economic development powers - two airports in New Jersey (Millville Airport and Cape May Airport) and three in Delaware (New Castle Airport, Civil Air Terminal and Delaware Airpark). All DRBA operating revenues are generated through the bridge, ferry and airport facilities. For more information, visit www.drba.net.

PDF of Press Release

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