Food still available on Southworth ferry run

For at least the next month, riders on the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth ferry route should find the food galleys open for service, according to Washington State Ferries Officials.

“They’re operating on a month-to-month basis,” said Brian Volkert, WSF’s business development manager, explaining that discussions between his agency and current galley operator Sound Food Cafe and Bakery are “still ongoing.”

After announcing last year he was closing up shop on the ferries because he was losing money, Sound Food General Manager Bill Dorn reached an agreement with the Inlandboatmen’s Union (IBU), which represents all galley workers, for less expensive insurance coverage.

However, Celia Schorr, WSF communications manager, said several problems with the food service remain.

“Sound Food reached an agreement with the labor unions, but that will not solve the other ongoing problems the service is having,” Schorr said.

She noted Dorn is still struggling to make a profit with the year-old venture. “They lost money (last) year.”

After the successful discussions with the IBU, WSF released a press release stating that Dorn met with agency staff regarding his contract and asked the ferry system to cover certain equipment repair and maintenance costs, something the agency said is not done for the other operators of on-board food service.

“We worked hard to get food service back on our ferries after Sodexho left in 2003,” said Mike Anderson, executive director of Washington State Ferries. “We’ve always made it clear that the ferry system cannot afford to cover the ongoing business costs of our concessionaires — it is their job to cover the costs of doing business. And that includes ongoing equipment repair.”

WSF officials said they agreed to extend Sound Food’s contract temporarily, while the two parties work to address other issues, including what they described as “concerns for several months regarding Sound Food’s accounting and bookkeeping methods.”

“Sound Food brought a lot of enthusiasm, good-quality food, and community support to the table, which is why we went forward with the pilot project,” Anderson said. “However, in the end, each concessionaire is responsible for the profitability of the business. It is not up to the state taxpayers to underwrite their costs.”

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