The French multinational Sodexo is investing $2.4 million in Zamperla’s Coney Island and has an exclusive contract to manage the food and facilities for the City’s amusement operator, sources told ATZ.
Sodexo has been Zamperla’s partner for “On Site Service Solutions” since Luna Park opened last May, though the partnership was not announced by the City and was known only within Coney Island until ATZ first reported it in November.
This season, Sodexo will operate food and beverage kiosks in the new Scream Zone in addition to Luna Park. The corporation, which is the 22nd largest in the world, also plans to open up their own restaurants at Paul’s Daughter’s Boardwalk location and the former Gregory & Paul’s on Surf Avenue across from the Cyclone. As previously reported last month, the Surf Ave restaurant is currently under construction.
ATZ obtained a copy of Zamperla/CAI’s proposal to the City which describes the Surf Avenue restaurant. The decor sounds a bit like Ruby’s and the Coney Island History Project: “The Luna Park Café pays tribute to the long history of Coney Island with memorabilia and tributes from local residents and visitors from around the world. This unique environment provides the backdrop for quick service prepared-to-order meals. The menu will be designed to provide a more balanced meal option for visitors looking for a complete meal and will be a venue where ‘healthier’ alternatives can be found. Potentially a year round venue, the Luna Park Café will also serve as the primary point of food service for all team members where an employee discount will be available.”
The proposal goes on to say that more extreme foods will be featured inside Scream Zone. “With thrill rides comes thrilling food and beverages which will use elements of spice, exotic-flavors, irregular sizes, and ‘u-decide’ the ingredient items where guests can challenge their imaginations. A kiosk-type portable network, as previously described, will be looked upon to enter this phase of the operation. A heavy emphasis will be placed on the design of each location to assimilate into easy accessibility from each attraction. This service plan provides the flexibility needed to keep Scream Zone evolving. A final count of locations has not been determined at this time but a similar strategy as used for Luna Park Phase I will be applied.”
In regard to the Boardwalk concessions in 2011, Zamperla’s proposal says they “will be combined and integrated into the food and beverage operations of Luna Park and Scream Zone. This is an important step in the presentation of Luna Park and Scream Zone from their beach points of entry. Structures would be improved and remodeled to mesh with the aesthetics of the respective parks. To be successful within the food and beverage part of the operation, this plan will constantly be reviewed and modifications made annually. New product development will always be looked upon, as well as the demands of the guests as ways to improve.”
Sodexo is known for its cafeterias and individually branded restaurants, but nationally branded subtenants are also brought in under franchising or licensing agreements for the appearance of variety. Whether the Sodexo client is a college, school, hospital, government, corporation or leisure destination, one constant is Sodexo’s completely centralized purchasing system, which requires clients to choose from a list of “Right Products.” Another term used internally by Sodexo is “Compliant.” Vendors who offer rebates are “compliant” while those that do not are “locked out,” according to investigative reporter Lucy Komisar in “Cafeteria Kickbacks: How food-service providers like Sodexo bilk millions from taxpayers and customers.” Last July, Attorney General Cuomo announced “a $20 million settlement with food services provider Sodexo for overcharging 21 New York school districts as well as the SUNY system.”
With just 88 days till the opening of Coney Island for the season on Palm Sunday –April 17, 2011– Zamperla’s Central Amusement International is locked in an ugly eviction battle with the Coney Island 8. The veteran Mom & Pops, including Ruby’s Bar and Paul’s Daughter, which have been Boardwalk favorites for decades, hope to remain. The Coney Island 8’s website claims, “Inside information suggests that Sodexo did not want to deal with The Coney Island 8 and therefore would not accept the contract with Zamperla without full control over all the food establishments.”
Sources familiar with Zamperla’s situation don’t expect the amusement operator to agree to any settlement that would allow the Coney Island 8 to remain on the Boardwalk since plans to make over the Boardwalk are well underway. Zamperla and Sodexo are said to be bringing in new businesses which have submitted letters of intent and now have leases in hand. Some of the newcomers have already gone in and measured the spaces or received the architect’s plans. Insiders characterize the Boardwalk makeover as a done deal. The next court date is February 16, just 60 days before Coney Island’s opening day. But it’s possible a settlement will be reached before then. A settlement would at least compensate the Coney Island 8 for the costs of those very unnecessary “business plans” and help them relocate in Coney or elsewhere.
Related posts on ATZ…
March 31, 2013: Surf’s Up for CAI Foods in Coney Island, Sodexo Is Out
October 20, 2011: Reversal of Fortune on the Coney Island Boardwalk
March 3, 2011: The Lowdown on Sodexo’s Sweet Deal in Coney Island