Different businesses blossom on the North Shore
On a sunny afternoon, the Ice Bar is a skiers haven that serves beer, sausages and anything grilled. Located on the sunny slopes of Alpine Meadows Sherwood Bowl, the Ice Bar is a different kind of business, a concession rented by a private owner unrelated to the ski resort.Like a number of other concessions around the North Shore, the Ice Bar operates differently than many businesses. Concessionaires contract with an organization such as the forest service, a utility district or another private business, and run independently on the landlords property.Concessions can include anything from a hot-dog stand at the beach, bicycle rentals in the park or coffee carts in front of a busy hardware store. Were unique to Tahoe in that we dont have running water were an actual on-the-mountain restaurant, said Ice Bar owner Bryant Laferriere.Alpine Meadows leases some of its land from the California Tahoe Conservancy, who then subleases the land to the Ice Bar. The concession fee Laferriere pays Alpine Meadows indirectly goes back to the conservancy to help maintain land in the Tahoe Basin.Concessions are an important service to both the public and the renting agencies because they provide amenities for visitors and residents, while also generating funding. With public agency concessions, the fees help pay to clean park and beach facilities, bathroom maintenance and garbage pickup.From a business standpoint, all of this is to raise revenue for the maintenance of parks, said park and facilities manager Kathy Long of the North Tahoe Public Utility District. Were looking for revenue streams all the time because were short on funding for maintenance.The North Tahoe utility district operates a handful of concessions in both summer and winter recreational areas. North Tahoe Regional Park offers sled and snowmobile rentals in the winter, the Tahoe Vista Recreation Area provides kayak rentals and tours during the summer, and North Tahoe Water Sports in Kings Beach rents out personal watercraft and non-motorized boats.Because our district doesnt have staff to run recreation programs, we need to find other people to do this that will not cost us and will benefit us, Long said. So we are providing recreation in a different way, which makes the concessionaires important to the community, too. They provide a reason for people to come and stay and something for them to do here.Additionally, a snowmobile concession, Lake Tahoe Snowmobile Tours, operates at the summit of Highway 267 on U.S. Forest Service land during the winter.But there are no concessions to be found in Tahoe City. The utility district has contracted with concessionaires in years past and is looking to get a kayak rental operation on Commons Beach. But the use of that land for the Farmers Market and summer concert series has the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency concerned with traffic, parking and noise impacts.We would really like to see the kayak concession going, said Assistant General Manager Cindy Gustafson of the Tahoe City Public Utility District. We havent really been approached by anyone else.Truckee-Donner Recreation and Park District does not operate any concessions because they have their own equipment and paid staff to manage a kayak rental on West End Beach.Overhead costs for concessions are low, but the owner is required to pay either a base fee or a percentage of gross sales to the renting agency. The North Tahoe concessions, for example, pay 15 to 25 percent of gross sales, depending on the nature of the business.Concessions are typically on a one- or two-year contract, but the California Tahoe Conservancy recently approved a five-year agreement with Tahoe Restaurant Collection, Inc. to provide kayak rentals, a deli, coffee and retail operation, public restrooms and year-round maintenance of the building and property on Patton Landing in Carnelian Bay.The concessionaire is required to pay utility fees and works as an in-lieu service. The value of utilities, operation and maintenance from the Patton Landing business is worth $40,000 annually to the conservancy, said Bruce Eisner, program manager for the California Tahoe Conservancy.
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