Ferry food will sail through summer

Southworth ferry riders may not be guaranteed warm weather for their trips across Puget Sound this summer, but they can at least have a warm-weather treat any time they like — ice cream.

That’s just one of the new menu items Bill Dorn of Sound Food and Cafe said he plans to offer commuters and tourists alike in the next few months as his contract with Washington Sate Ferries to stock the galleys on the Southworth-Vashon-Fauntleroy route was renewed last week.

Dorn said he extended his current contract — which was set to expire on Wednesday — until the end of September. At that point, both parties will discuss renewing the contract, which Dorn said he hopes will happen — especially if the summer gives his profit margin a healthy glow.

“We’re expecting a good summer,” he said, explaining that since he didn’t expand his Vashon Island-based food service to the boats until October, he doesn’t know just how big a boost the busy season will give his business.

If his fall and winter performance is any indication, however, Dorn said his summer sales should be robust.

“If we can make it through the low part of the year, that’s a good sign,” he said, explaining that so far the venture is breaking even, and already this month, “Our sales have been great.”

Dorn said business has remained steady thanks to his custom sandwiches becoming a hit with commuters, who buy them on the boats to take to work, along with other top sellers such as chowder and pastries.

Dorn also credited a lot of his success to the experience of the galley crews, who are all veterans of the past ferry food service.

“We were really lucky to have the old employees back working there, because they were able to give us a head’s up on a lot of things,” he said. “It’s basically a floating restaurant, and there’s a lot more logistics involved in that.”

Dorn said there is also a lot of work and planning involved in offering wine tastings on the boats, but that they are still in the works and he hopes to offer them sometime in the future.

Business development manager Brian Volkert said WSF will also be evaluating the concession operations this summer before contract negotiations resume in October.

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