San Clemente’s search for someone to operate the city’s North Beach concession stand will evidently continue for at least one more year.
This has been the second straight summer that North Beach has gone without a food concession. On May 16 the City Council selected a partnership that consisted of Ruby’s Diner founder Doug Cavanaugh and Ruby’s executive vice-president Tad Belshe to do business at North Beach as the “Burger Shack on the Tracks.”
It was to be independent of Ruby’s, designed to offer quality food and services at reasonable prices and with a local feel, Cavanaugh and Belshe said in their proposal. The partners said they would take the best from their food-service experiences and apply it in a fast-casual beach setting.
“We definitely hope the community will appreciate what we are bringing to the table with our experience, yet keeping a very local feel and providing high-quality offerings,” Belshe said in May.
Ultimately, Belshe said the partners decided that they wouldn’t be able to make a go of it at North Beach under the conditions.
“We were struggling over being able to get signage that we felt would be reasonable,” Belshe said in a telephone interview on Monday, Aug. 28. He said it was a question of whether the business could be profitable without signage that could be seen from the parking lot.
“The city has a lot of signage conditions and various other lease details that we were working through,” Belshe said. “This season just wasn’t feasible.”
He said the City Council had also decided not to let them do beach rentals, and that factored in, but signage was the main obstacle. Belshe said the partnership would be interested in trying again if the concession could achieve better exposure.
“We’re not in business just to serve 20 to 50 people on a beach throughout the day,” Belshe said.
City Manager James Makshanoff said that the partners submitted a sign proposal, but the city’s sign code would not permit it. Makshanoff said he did not have authority to waive the City Council’s condition disallowing beach rentals.
“It would have to go back to the council for consideration,” he said. At this point, he said, it appears that the partnership has not executed the concession contract. “We have not had any conversations with them recently on the issue,” the city manager said.
So much time has passed, he said, that it appears the city would have to reissue a request for competitive proposals if…