The Rye Town Park Commission has sparked interest from at least six restaurateurs to run an operation at the park’s restaurant and beachside snack bar and beverage stand for the next decade.
According to Rye City Councilwoman Julie Killian, a Republican and member of the park commission, after meeting with six companies during pre-proposal conferences, the park commission is expecting an equal amount of restaurateurs to submit offers to take over the park’s food operations for a period between 10 and 20 years.
The deadline to respond to the official request for proposals, RFP, has been extended to Sept. 6.
The RFP process comes as the park’s current deal with Homestyle Caterers, which operates the steak and seafood grill outlet known as the Ocean Grille, will expire in the coming months. Al Ciuffetelli, the owner of the restaurant company, agreed to terms with the park commission earlier this year to secure a one-year license agreement to run the grill outlet and operate a Nathan’s famous fast food chain at the north gate of the beach for the summer of 2017.
Although not yet confirmed with the park commission, Ciuffetelli said he plans to continue his operation at the park for a longer term, granted the commission accepts his anticipated offer.
As of press time, the park commission, which consists of members from the city and town of Rye, the villages of Port Chester and Rye Brook, and the Rye Neck section of the village of Mamaroneck, will not release the names of the other parties interested in the restaurant space.
Additionally, it remains unknown whether or not Angelo Liberatore, an operating partner of the Fort Pond Bay Company—which owns Half Moon in Dobbs Ferry and Harvest on Hudson in Hastings-on-Hudson—will submit an offer to the park commission.
Last year, Liberatore told the Review he was still interested in operating a restaurant out of the park after withdrawing a previous offer to the park commission in response to another RFP.
At the time, Liberatore was one of only two responders to the request that was issued toward the end of 2016 in preparation for the departure of the park’s longtime former restaurant, Seaside Johnnies.
Liberatore withdrew his offer after determining there wasn’t enough time to prepare for the upcoming season, which led the park commission to discard the RFP entirely and agree on a short-term deal with Ciuffetelli at the beginning of this year.
The current RFP process is being implemented by the commission’s Restaurant Steering Committee and Tracy Lawler from the JGL Food Service consultant company. JGL, which is being paid $19,000 to conduct the RFP process, also selected Homestyle Caterers earlier this year.
The committee is comprised of two commissioners, Killian and Port Chester Mayor Fritz Falanka, a Democrat, and two residents—one from the town of Rye, Dan Tartaglia, and the other from the city of Rye, Russ Gold.
The park, which overlooks Oakland Beach and the Long Island Sound, is located off of Forest Avenue in the city of Rye. The 62-acre green space and beachfront offers seasonal swimming and year-round use for passive and semi-active events.
Liberatore and Rye Town Supervisor Gary Zuckerman could not be reached for comment, as of press time.