Saybrook Restaurateurs to Helm Clinton Dockside Stand
(Photo by Eric O'Connell/Harbopr News )
The Clinton dock concession stand is back in business. On April 7, the Town Council approved the operators of Liv’s Oyster Bar and Liv’s Shack in Old Saybrook to take over the stand at the end of Riverside Drive for the summer season.
For years people have headed to the concession stand by the town dock for a bite to eat with a water view. For the past two years, the stand was known as Clinton Harbor Grill but on Feb. 1, Evan Johnson, the operator of the business, sent Clinton Town Manager Karl Kilduff a letter asking to be let out of the third year of a three-year lease he had been awarded in 2019. Johnson cited uncertainty with the food service industry and some personal life changes as reasons he wanted out of the lease.
The council granted Johnson’s wish in February and set about finding a new tenant to take over the lease. Following an executive session at its meeting on April 7, the council unanimously approved the JR Restaurant Group of Old Saybrook to be the new operators of the stand.
Kilduff explained more details of the lease agreement to the Harbor News.
“The JR Restaurant Group operates Liv’s Oyster Bar and Liv’s Shack in Old Saybrook. The initial term of the lease is three years with an awardable option for an additional two years. The rent paid in the first year of the lease will be $1,500 per month. The rent will increase in years two and three of the lease to $2,000 per month,” Kilduff said.
As for information more interesting to diner, “They will be offering a menu to provide traditional fare, such as egg sandwiches for breakfast on the weekends as well as seafood offerings,” he added.
Kilduff said the hope is for the stand to be open by May 1 but said there are still details that need to be ironed out. The stand will be open seven days per week, with hours from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday to Sunday.
“We are looking forward to a successful summer season for our new operator,” Kilduff said.
When the council let the previous tenant out of its lease agreement, Kilduff said that the town wanted to find a vendor that had experience in the industry and could attract people to the stand. Kilduff said at the time that just filling the spot wasn’t as important as making sure the right vendor was selected since there are benefits to the community beyond simply paying the rent.
Similarly, when the Parks & Recreation commission needed to find a vendor for the beach concession stand last year the commission awarded the town contract to Hog Wild, a restaurant in Westbrook that already had established success and popularity. That, he said, set up the beach stand for a longer-term success.
Kilduff said that there were four bids submitted for consideration for the dock concession stand and a range of rents were submitted. Ultimately, the bid from JR Restaurant Group won out.
“The proposal was from a credible business entity that had strong operating experience in food service and an offered rent which was higher than other proposers,” said Kilduff.
The dock concession stand has been a thorny issue for some over the last several years. For a decade the stand was known as Sal D’s and it was operated by the Voss family. However, that era came to an end in 2019 when business chose not to participate in a town bid process that could have returned it for an 11th season.
That year the town’s Board of Selectmen opted to substantially increase the rent for the stand. The rent rose from the $200 per month that the Voss family had paid to $2,000 per month.