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Ferry galley vendors selected

Cascade Concessions vows fast service, fresh baked goods.

Ferry galleys: they’re not just about the grill and the fryer anymore.

Fresh-baked oven fare is among the goals of Cascade Concessions, a Vancouver, Wash.-based company that will provide galley service on the Bainbridge-Seattle run beginning...when?

“Everybody wants to know when we’re going to get started,” said Nove Meyers, president of the family-owned concern. “We can be going six weeks after signing a (labor) contract with the union. If we can do that in two weeks, we can be going by June.”

Cascade was one of two firms selected last week to provide food service aboard Washington ferries. The company will also serve the Kingston/Edmonds and Bremerton/Seattle runs year-round, and the Anacortes/San Juan routes during the peak summer season.

Also winning a contract was Vashon Island’s Sound Food Cafe, Bakery and Wine Bar, for service on the Vashon/Seattle/Fauntleroy run. WSF did not receive “viable proposals” to restore galley service on the Mukilteo/Clinton or Port Townsend/Keystone routes, officials said.

It will be the first time since the 1960s that ferry food has been provided by locally owned and operated companies, WSF officials said.

Galley service was shut down Jan. 1, after the previous concessionaire, Maryland-based Sodexho, could not reach a new contract agreement with WSF. The ferry system had wanted a higher percentage of concession revenues.

Under terms of the agreements announced Friday, Cascade will pay WSF some 7 percent of the first $5 million in annual gross revenues, and 10 percent of gross revenues over $5 million, plus an additional amount up to 5 percent toward vessel galley upgrades.

Terms announced for Sound Food Cafe were different; the outfit will pay a per-month galley rental of $1,000, plus unspecified additional costs. The arrangement is “much less than would have been paid under the former contract, but better embraces the business opportunity that was a significant money loser for the previous concessionaire,” WSF officials said in announcing the agreements.

Service will be resumed once the companies come to terms with the Inlandboatmen’s Union, of which previous galley workers were members. On-board galley workers must be represented by the IBU under a ruling by the state Marine Employee’s Commission, although that ruling has been appealed by the WSF.

Pay for past workers reportedly fell in the $10-$14 per hour range; some 130 jobs were eliminated when the galley service shut down, of which Meyers said the Cascade service should restore between 70 and 80, plus administrative posts.

“I understand the importance and values of a union, and I believe in what they stand for,” Meyers said. “I want to get this thing going, and I believe their members do as well.”

Meyers said Cascade representatives will be on the ferries this week, and hope to install ovens “so we can have fresh-baked cinnamon rolls in the mornings, fresh-baked cookies and fresh-baked pizzas at night.”

The fare will also include “old standbys” like Ivar’s clam chowder, deli sandwiches, hamburgers and grilled chicken breast sandwiches, he said. Wine and beer from Northwest wineries and breweries are planned.

“My personal philosophy is to put the emphasis on value rather than price,” Meyers said. “I want the customers to feel they got their money’s worth.”

The 26-year-old company has provided concessions for Portland International Raceway, the Portland Rose Festival, rodeos in Ellensburg and Eugene, Ore., the Clallam County Fair, and Seafair, among other events.

Still to be announced are contracts for other concessions, including food service at Colman Dock.

“People are anxious for food to come back,” said Brian Volkert, WSF manager of business development. “While some of them have found other solutions, we expect they will come back to us when food is offered.”

Kitsap County writer Charlie Bermant contributed to this report.

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