Marvel coming to the Long Beach boardwalk

Iconic ice cream eatery to open at National Boulevard

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Marvel, the iconic ice cream shop in Lido Beach, will take over the National Boulevard concession stand on the boardwalk after the City Council voted unanimously to approve a contract with the business last week.

The council voted on Dec. 3 to enter into an agreement with Marvel Frozen Dairy Inc. for the space formerly occupied by Gentle Brew Coffee Roasters. Council members Anthony Eramo and Chumi Diamond were not present.

As part of the deal, Marvel was set to take over the location on Dec. 1 and pay a month’s rent of $2,500. Marvel will operate the space through Dec. 31, 2025, beginning with an annual rent of $40,000 in 2020, with yearly increases up to $52,000 by 2025, with no option for renewal.

Marvel, at 258 Lido Blvd., was one of 10 businesses that responded to a request for proposals in April, including a Nathan’s/Dippin’ Dots partnership, to be operated by Long Beach-based Party Magic USA, which proposed an annual rent of $52,000, and Oceanside’s A&S Fine Foods, which offered $46,000 per year.

Other businesses that responded included Long Beach-based Blacksmith’s Breads, offering $30,000 per year; Seven Brothers Gourmet, of Oceanside, which offered $45,000; and Surfs Up Pizza, of Long Beach, which offered $30,000.

The responses were reviewed by a selection committee, and evaluated based on the diversity of food choices and prices — with a preference for local businesses — before Marvel was ultimately chosen.

Roy Lester, a former president of the Long Beach Board of Education, questioned the deal, saying that it appeared that the city was losing out on awarding the contract to a higher bidder. “We’re losing about $50,000 on this particular contract, as opposed to Party Magic,” Lester said. “The criteria for choosing, it seems to me, should be that we are going to collect the money. Instead, the criteria has something to do with local food choices and diversity of food, and for the life of me, I can’t really see the difference between Party Magic and Marvel.”

The council had tabled a proposal to approve the deal with Marvel in July. City Council President Anissa Moore said that the process had stalled after council members failed to discuss the selection criteria collectively, and went with the committee’s recommendation.

“The City Council has reviewed all of the [proposals] that were submitted,” Acting City Manager John Mirando said. “And we reissued the recommendation . . . to award the [contract] to Marvel.”

Marvel has been a fixture in the community since 1951, and according to the city, the business plans to sell its famous soft-serve ice cream as well as yogurt, smoothies, specialty desserts and snacks at what many described as a prime boardwalk location in the center of the city. The owners of the business could not be reached for comment.

Gentle Brew was the first concession to open on the boardwalk in 2016 after the structure was rebuilt in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The council approved an $8.6 million project in 2016 to rebuild comfort stations at Grand, National, Edwards, Riverside, Lincoln and Pacific boulevards that were all but destroyed by Sandy, which included concessions and other amenities in order to make the boardwalk a “family-friendly destination.” The cost of rebuilding the structures was reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

According to the original lease obtained by the Herald, which the city said expired on Nov. 30, Gentle Brew’s rent began at $10,500 in 2016, and was set to increase to $11,475 this year. Mirando, however, said that the business defaulted on the lease in early 2018, despite an attempt by the city to negotiate a payment schedule.

“We went to court, and after a court settlement, they made a lump sum payment,” Mirando said, adding that the agreement allowed the city to opt out of the deal.