Local couple Penny Powers and Max Fanderl will be taking over operations of the Kinsmen Beach concession stand this summer, after Invermere council unanimously voted to award the contract for the stand to their company, Sandlor Holdings Ltd.

The opportunity to run the concession stand generated much interest among the local business community and drew five proposals, all of them from valley residents.

Invermere district staff, at the Tuesday, March 8th council meeting, had recommended council choose the Sandlor Holdings (the umbrella company for Columbia River Paddle) proposal, based on the company’s plans for expanded operations (being open for longer hours and for more of the season — likely from late spring through until fall — as well as busy weekends in winter and special events), its experience in the area (it already rents recreational gear out of the Kinsmen Beach building during the summer), and its vision of creating a destination in the area.

“We envision our hiking tours meeting here early morning every day for a coffee and a snack before they head out, perhaps picking up a healthy lunch to go. We also would like to encourage an evening crowd to sit and enjoy the beauty that Kinsmen Beach has to offer as their day at the beach winds down,” Powers and Fanderl wrote in their proposal.

“Our experience at the Kinsmen Beach location (renting gear) has taught us that, at this time, the traffic at the beach is very weather dependant. If the sun isn’t out, the people simply aren’t there. We would like very much to change this and have the entire area become a destination, rain or shine,” they continued. “Our other location, under the bridge in Athalmer, has taught us that it is possible to attract clientele (and) to become proactive in attracting business to the location, instead of simply reactively serving those who are already on site. We feel that we are uniquely suited and motivated to achieve this by combining the needs of our hike guiding, rental service and food concession.”

Sandlor proposed paying 12 per cent of its sales before tax as rent, while the other four proposals envisioned paying rents varying between $250 and $500 a month. The concession menu proposed by Sandlor includes fries, hot dogs, burgers, bratwurst, cold and frozen items, sandwiches and salads.

Invermere mayor Gerry Taft left the room for the discussion and vote (to avoid any perceived conflict of interest). The other three councillors (councillor Greg Anderson was absent) praised the high quality of all the proposals, but all ultimately voiced their support for choosing Sandlor Holdings.

“I’m a bit nervous about the 12 per cent, since it’s an unknown, but I am comfortable with them (Sandlor Holdings). They have a good reputation,” said councillor Justin Atterbury.

“It is a good, solid proposal and it ties in nicely with their other endeavours down there. I think it will create a real destination down there,” said councillor Al Miller.

“We are quite happy they picked us. The other proposal were all strong and came from people who have many years of experience in the food industry,” Fanderl told The Echo a few days after the decision. “From the beginning, we conveyed that although we may not have as much experience as some of them in the food industry, we do understand it, but also that we really want to make a destination of it (the Kinsmen Beach concession building).”

“Our big things is we see the potential for it to be more than just a beach down there. We want to give people a reason to come down, other than to just hang out at the beach — we want to be a focal point at all times of the day,” Powers said. “Our other spot is a gravel parking lot under a bridge, but we still have people come, because we give them something to do. We feel we can bring that to Kinsmen Beach.”

Powers added that the couple plans to make their concession operations as local as possible, by sourcing food products from the valley, for instance. She also said they may have a special evening menu later in the day, with dinner-type features. The other proposals to operate the concession stand came from the Konig Meat and Sausage Company; Radium Hot Springs-based Peace of Mind: Vacation Property Management owner Joshua Hagen; former Radium Springs golf course executive chef Michael Stevens; and Eagle Ranch Golf Resort manager Eric Thorsteinson and head golf professional Brent Taylor.