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Two vendors selected to provide food for ferry travelers

The Washington State Ferries have selected two vendors to provide food service on four cross-Sound routes. This represents the first time since the 1960s that ferry food will be supplied by locally-owned companies, said representatives from WSF.

The vendors, Cascade Concessions of Vancouver, Wash., and Sound Food Cafe, Bakery and Wine Bar, must now reach labor agreements with the Inlandboatmen’s Union. These negotiations, as well as necessary preparations, make June 1 an optimistic service date, said members of the participating parties.

Former WSF food provider Sodexho bid for the business but was not selected.

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

Cascade Concessions will provide service on the Seattle-Bremerton, Seattle-Bainbridge Island and Edmonds-Kingston routes, as well as Anacortes-San Juan between June and August. Sound Food’s service will commence on the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route.

Nove Meyers of Cascade Concessions said his company will succeed where others have failed by offering an unprecedented quality of food and speed of service.

“The sailings are quite short,” he said, “so people need to know they can be served in time. We need to reduce the bottlenecks in the line and get people through more quickly.”

Other proposed improvements include touchscreen service, acceptance of debit and credit cards and onboard ovens for fresh food preparation. There will also be some carryover from the last food administration, such as supplying piping hot Ivar’s Clam Chowder.

On the southernmost route, Sound Food Cafe is expected to duplicate the menu of its popular Vashon Island restaurant. This includes organic foods and teas, along with the possibility of wine tastings.

The Cascade Concessions contract has a 10-year duration, although there are escape clauses if either side is unsatisfied. Sound Cafe is contracted through September, after which a renewal will be discussed.

The two vendors were selected from more than 20 bidding companies. One not selected was Anchorage-based Alaska Gourmet Subs.

“We didn’t get the onboard business,” said owner Andreas Moussarous. “But I met the guys who did. They’re real professionals and have a lot of experience.”

Moussarous is still up for the Colman Dock contracts, scheduled to be announced this week.

“That might be a better deal for us because we won’t have to deal with the unions,” he said.

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