The Esplanade Association (TEA) joined the Department of Conservation and Recreation for two meetings Wednesday to gather public input on future food concessions and other facilities on the Charles River Esplanade.
The meetings followed the recent announcement that DCR would issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a vendor permit to operate the food concession at the café near the Hatch Shell.
“We’re looking at both short- and long-term plans for the facility, both what we’d like to see in the upcoming contract and what we want to see ideally,” TEA Executive Director Sylvia Salas told the approximately 15 neighbors, state officials and other stakeholders in attendance at the second meeting.
Salas added TEA would also conduct a public survey to further assist the state in gathering feedback for the RFP.
Tani Marinovich, TEA major gifts officer and one of the founders of the Esplanade Playspace, said she expects the café would find a strong demand in the morning for coffee, breakfast sandwiches and bagels.
“I think you can make this a destination without a kitchen,” Marinovich said. “People are really looking for snack options and hours in the morning.”
Community Boating Executive Director Charlie Zechel said the future café should provide catering services, but he was skeptical of transforming the space into an upscale eatery. “Since there’s never been fine dining there, it would be speculative,” Zechel said.
Joyce Tallent, who recently relocated to the Back Bay from San Francisco, said she would like to see the café serve beer and wine.
“In the nicer months, it would be nice to walk over there for a salad and a glass of wine,” Tallent said.
TEA volunteer and consultant Andy Goresh, who facilitated both meetings, said integrating many disparate ideas into the RFP would likely prove to be a challenging task.
“This is a dynamic that has a lot of moving parts, and we’re trying to capture all the elements and fit them together,” Goresh said. “It’s not a linear process of getting from here to there.”