Beginning today, food peddlers who wish to set up shop at one of 12 authorized sites at town-owned beaches in East Hampton can pick up applications from the Town Purchasing Department allowing them to bid on the rights to use one of the spots.
The rights will be given to the highest bidder. A points system, which the board attempted to institute last year, allowing the town board to weigh non-monetary factors such as experience and community ties as well as business and marketing details, has been abandoned.
Although that system was designed to provide consideration for longtime and popular vendors such as the Ditch Witch, which has been selling food at Ditch Plain beach for years, it did not result in the Ditch Witch gaining the concession for that spot last year. Instead, a newcomer, Turf Lobster Rolls, came out ahead. Another longtime vendor at Ditch run by a local family, Beach Dog, lost out to Montaco, a relative newcomer.
That announcement prompted a wave of protest, and eventually the town board, citing a glitch in the process, in that not all of the bidders had received a detailed breakdown of the weighted criteria, threw out all of the bids, and the pay-for-a-site process. A compromise enabled all of the Montauk vendors to do business.
This year, the process begins again. While for years, vendors were allowed to set up shop on essentially a first-come-first-served basis, and traditional territories were informally respected, an increase in peddlers and the growth in popularity of food trucks created a need to begin to regulate the field, the town board had said.
The 12 sites to be licensed include Indian Wells Beach and Albert’s Landing in Amagansett, Maidstone Park in Springs, and Kirk Park and East Lake Drive in Montauk, among others.
A hearing will be held by the town board at 7 p.m. next Thursday at Town Hall on the addition of a South Otis Road location, near Ditch Plain in Montauk.
Potential vendors must submit bids to the Purchasing Department by 1 p.m. on March 22.