A popular concession stand at Westport’s Compo Beach is shutting down amid a dispute over rent, officials said.
The Westport Parks and Recreation Department announced that effective immediately, Joey’s By The Shore, which has operated at Compo Beach for years, will no longer be operational. Officials noted that the business will also no longer operate at the town's Longshore Pavilion and the Longshore Halfway House.
According to reports, owner Joey Romeo and the town were in contention about rent and his lease, and an agreement could not be reached. He reportedly was unwilling to pay the full rent due this year and refused to finish the three years remaining on his lease.
Business owners will have the opportunity to bid on a new proposal before the summer in 2020, officials said. By that point, the concessions stands are expected to be reopened by a different manager.
“Regrettably, Mr. Romeo has advised us that he will not pay the full rent due in 2019 under his lease, nor is he willing to fulfill his remaining three years under the lease,” Parks and Recreation Director Jennifer Fava said in a statement. “We have made every effort to negotiate mutually acceptable terms, but we have not reached an agreement with him.”
First Selectman Jim Marpe added, “we appreciate the many years of service Joey has provided to the community, especially at Compo Beach, providing food for our beachgoers and jobs for some of our young adults. We will be working to get a new concessionaire in place to meet the needs of our residents and users.”
Romero issued a statement of his own when the news broke that he would be leaving Compo Beach.
“After 32 years serving the community, we were unable to come to an agreement with the town of Westport to continue operating our concessions at Compo Beach, the Longshore Pavilion, and the halfway house on the golf course," he said. "It has been a pleasure to serve all of our customers for all of these years. It has also been a joy to watch generations grow up in town. I have absolutely loved employing and mentoring so many students and young people. All have gone on to become productive adults.
“Running Joey’s has been the highlight of my life. I will miss it, and all of you. I wish everyone the best and I look forward to seeing our beloved customers, employees, and friends around town.”
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