Westport finance board approves new beach concessionaire; Selectmen have final vote

The Board of Finance reviewed the town budget on Wednesday. Taken March 10, 2020 in Westport, Conn.

The Board of Finance reviewed the town budget on Wednesday. Taken March 10, 2020 in Westport, Conn.

DJ Simmons/Hearst Connecticut Media

WESTPORT — The Board of Finance has unanimously approved the lease between the town and its new beach concessionaire Upsilon Entertainment Group.

“We felt that this was the company that could best serve the community as a whole,” Parks and Recreation Director Jennifer Fava said on Wednesday.

The New York-based company would run the food service at Compo Beach instead of Joey’s by the Shore. It will also helm the concessions at the Longshore Halfway House and Longshore Pavilion.

The lease will now go before the Board of Selectmen for final approval.

Fava said the selection group for the new concessionaire included members from her department, the Representative Town Meeting, Department of Public Works and Parks and Recreation Commission.

“There was a whole bunch of factors that went into why we chose Upsilon. One was also the fee,” Fava said.

The company had the highest proposal, giving the town a minimum guarantee of $100,000 or 10 percent of the gross revenue. This could increase to $120,000 or 12 percent of gross revenue over the five-year agreement.

“There’s an opportunity there for revenue sharing,” she said. “They’re the only ones that did that.”

Fava said the company’s commitment to hiring local staff and supporting Connecticut businesses and environmental initiatives were also reasons behind the choice.

The company experienced some scrutiny from residents after concerns were raised regarding two tax liens on the business.

Fava said the one of the tax liens was due to a late payment that they have since paid in full. The other was due to the company’s business in Bryant Park garnering more revenue than expected, and the company underestimating their tax obligation, she said.

“They have a payment plan and they’re on schedule with that,” Fava said. “They’re working on getting us a certificate of good standing from the state. We will have that as backup as well.”

Finance board members reviewed the company, the lease and the decision not to choose a local company. Fava said none of companies interested in the job were based in Westport. The other businesses in the bidding process came from Norwalk, Stratford, Woodbrige and Ryebrook, N.Y.

BOF member Jim Foster said Fava had prior experience in having to transition the town’s concessionaire, which helped.

“We’re a tough town at times. Our expectations are high and you did an extremely terrific job in making that transition.” Foster said. “My sense is that, as you approach this transition, you went through the same rigorous process in your mind to make sure the outcome was an appropriate one for the town.”