Westport zoning commission approves new beach concessionaire

In November, the town's Parks and Recreation Department announced Joey's by the Shore concessions was closed.

In November, the town’s Parks and Recreation Department announced Joey’s by the Shore concessions was closed.

Paul Schott / Paul Schott

WESTPORT — While it remains unclear when Compo Beach will officially open, the town has found a new business it wants to helm the beach’s food service when it does.

On Thursday, the Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved a new concessionaire chosen by the Parks and Recreation Department. The New York-based company looks to fill the vacancy left by the closure of Joey’s by the Shore in November. It will also operate concessions at Longshore Pavilion and the Longshore Halfway House.

The finance board will review the lease agreement on Wednesday.

“We’ve been working to replace this vendor as it clearly provides important services for our residents,” Parks and Recreation Director Jennifer Fava said.

Upsilon Entertainment Group was chosen after a formal bid process that garnered five proposals. Fava said fees to be paid to the town for the first year ranged from $55,000 to a guarantee of $100,000 or 10 percent of the gross revenue, whichever is higher. The latter proposal came from Upsilon.

“Over the five years of the agreement, it tops out at $120,000 of base guarantee or 12 percent of gross revenue, whichever is higher,” Fava said.

The company was committed to hiring local staff and looked to support Connecticut businesses by selling Connecticut-based products, she said. The company has experience at Bryant park, Hudson River Park and Prospect Park in New York.

“They came off very professional and gave a feeling and philosophy of wanting to be partners with the town,” Fava said.

While the contract was similar to previous agreements, she said it included a rider to cover any uncertainties regarding partial openings because of the coronavirus.

Fava said the other bidders came from Norwalk, Stratford, Woodbridge and Ryebrook, N.Y. with Upsilon having the highest bid.

Fava said once a tenant was selected, the Finance Department ran a credit report.

“I also talked with all of the businesses that they currently work with and all of them were satisfied with them and they all said they paid in full and on time,” she said.

Commissioner Chip Stephens said he strongly recommended that numbers are audited more than once a year

“I think it should be very clearly laid out that these audits have to be done at a certain time or else they risk losing their lease,” Stephens said. “I would again suggest more than just yearly because a lot happens in a year.”

The zoning commission also added language in the lease to address signage, appropriate pricing and to ensure the company complies with the town’s zoning regulations.

“If the applicant comes forward and wants to change anything on the building, it has to go through Planning and Zoning,” Commissioner Cathy Walsh said.