Ferries to see return of food, spirits

Vendor, union come to terms, with service to resume in May.

David Groves took the news that onboard food service is likely to return in May as an overdue surprise, and the end of his criminal career.

“I’m excited that I’ll end my stint as a lawbreaker,” the Bainbridge Ferry Advisory Committee member said. “I won’t have to brown-bag my beer on Friday after work like a wino. It’s great news.”

The vendor holding the contract for food service on the Bainbridge run reached tentative agreement Saturday with the union representing ferry workers, apparently breaking a year-long deadlock that left riders with vending machine offerings.

“We’ve agreed on getting the galleys back open,” said Nove Meyers of Cascade Concessions, which holds contracts for service on the Bainbridge, Bremerton and Edmonds ferry runs. “We agree on wages, benefits, scheduling – all the main issues.”

Meyers and the Inland­boatmen’s Union of the Pacific began new talks Friday morning and worked continuously until 5:30 a.m. Saturday.

“We were both typing on our laptops at the end,” Meyers said. “Now we have to compare what we wrote down, see if it’s the same, and make it final. I’m very pleased and don’t see any problems.”

The union representative negotiating the agreement could not be reached at press time.

Meyers intends to bring back many familiar menu items starting this spring, including clam chowder, hamburgers, beer and wine. He’ll also likely sell hot and cold sandwiches, pizza, salads and cinnamon rolls. All coffee will be fair-trade, he said.

He hopes to have all ferries serving food by June, but has set the Bainbridge run as his top priority with a May start-up.

Meyers said a non-negotiable, March 18 deadline set by new Washington State Ferries Director Mike Anderson provided the spark to get both sides moving. If an agreement hadn’t been reached, the contract would have been voided and rebid.

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