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State Fairgrounds seeks contractor to operate restaurants and catering

By Eric Reinhardt

Date:

GEDDES — The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets announced the issuance of a request for proposals (RFP) for a contractor to operate all of the New York State Fairgrounds’ restaurants and provide catering services.

The contract covers five years, with the possibility of an additional five-year renewal, the department said in a news release.

All bidders must certify that they have operated at least two full-service, year-round restaurants within the last three years with gross annual revenue above $150,000.

They must obtain their own liquor licenses. They must also submit detailed business plans, operations plans, and resumes of principal members.

Bids are due by April 25. The tentative date for awarding the winning bid is May 9. The contract begins on July 1.

The RFP marks the first time that the department is seeking a single company to operate all of the Fair’s year-round dining facilities. They include two rooms in the Art and Home Center — the Empire Room restaurant and banquet facility, and the smaller Somerset Room meeting room and banquet facility, along with restaurants in the Center of Progress and the Horticulture buildings.  

“The department seeks to work with a company that can make maximum use of all of those facilities, to provide the greatest benefit possible to the people who attend the Fair and our more than 100 other annual events, as well as to taxpayers,” Richard Ball, acting commissioner of agriculture, said in the news release.

In addition, the contractor will provide mobile food service in certain buildings that do not have restaurants but which often hold large trade shows or horse and livestock events, the department said.

Those buildings include the Exhibit Center and Toyota Coliseum.

The winning bidder will also provide catering services for special events and meetings on the Fairgrounds as needed.

The contractor may also book and cater special events when facilities are not otherwise in use, such as wedding receptions.

In line with department policy and the Fair’s mission of promoting agriculture, the restaurants’ operator will be asked to promote food and beverages produced in New York, the department said.

Bidders should submit sample menus, along with promotion plans that include foods and beverages made in New York, as part of the evaluation process, it added.

The full RFP can be found at www.agriculture.ny.gov/RFPS.html

Contact Reinhardt at ereinhardt@cnybj.com

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