What doesn’t fly — or sail — in Riverhead just might in Greenport Village
At least that’s the thinking of Ed Graham, who asked the Village Board Monday night to rent him and his group dock space for what he described as a “cocktail boat” that would run excursions on which passengers could purchase drinks and hors d’oeuvres and light snacks.
The 366-passenger boat, called The Cabana, is part of the Marco Polo Cruise Fleet that sails out of New York City. The group tried to gain a foothold in Riverhead this year, only to be turned down by officials — led by Supervisor Sean Walter — who weren’t convinced the boat plans were bona fide.
Mr. Walter and others took a trip to NYC, only to learn that Mr. Graham and others who had presented to the Riverhead Town Board did not own or lease the boat, the supervisor had said.
From then on, town officials said they wouldn’t entertain the proposal.
“Riverhead thought it was a joke,” Mr. Graham said. “They kind of threw us under the bus.”
But it’s no joke, he told Greenport board members, insisting he’s not trying to compete with local restaurants, which was also a concern of Riverhead officials. In fact, Mr. Graham said, he wants to offer to small restaurants the chance to partner in providing services to large parties that can’t be accommodated on land.
He’s asking for a spot on the west pier at the Mitchell Park Marina and speculated that he might be able to pay a flat fee of about $10,000 for seasonal dockage this year plus a small per-passenger fee that would go to the village.
Mr. Graham proposes to run sunset cruises between 5 and 9 p.m.; moonlight cruises from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m.; and day cruises to visit lighthouses between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. He proposes to charge passengers between $30 and $35 apiece and offered to give a deal to Greenporters for $20 per person. But, he said, if dock fees were too steep, he would have to charge more for the cruises, which could make them unaffordable for many potential passengers.
Mayor David Nyce asked him to take the proposal to Greenport Business Improvement District members, who meet Thursday morning. The board wants to give business owners a chance to weigh in on the proposal before it acts, officials said.
Mr. Graham is hoping to win approval in time to get the service up and running by Memorial Day weekend. Failure to do so would cost the business one-third of its revenues, he told the board.