Removed Frenchy's chairs free up valuable real estate

Rental lounge chairs lie covered as beachgoers use newly freed-up sand space Monday near the Music Pier in Ocean City.

OCEAN CITY — When Frenchy’s Fries started setting up rows of red-and-yellow, branded chairs and umbrellas near the Music Pier around Memorial Day, the backlash was swift.

Instead of hawking their wares from the back of the beach like most companies, Frenchy’s was taking up space frequented by families, many said.

Now, the chairs — and Frenchy’s practice of stretching out on the sand — are on the way out.

On Sunday, Frenchy’s parent company, Adventure Golf South LLC, announced it’s turning over its stretch of the beach by Ninth Street to another rental company, according to a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

The new tenant, Swift Beach Services, has been renting chairs to beachgoers in Ocean City for years and maintains locations along the beach. The company will rent out its own chairs in place of the lounge chairs, and will not set them up ahead of time.

“With the lease, the Swifts can concentrate 100% on beach services at this and other locations,” a post from Frenchy’s reads, “while Adventure Golf focuses on its other business ventures.”

Swift Beach Services will lose money in the five-year deal, co-owner Doug Ross said, but he and his co-owner Sean Swift decided it was justified.

Swift approached Frenchy’s ownership last week with a proposal, and they accepted over the weekend, Ross said.

“We noticed how livid people were about what was going on,” Ross said. “We said to (the owner) that we believe that we could turn this around and we can come in and provide our service, and we think that that’s what’s best for the city. And he agreed.”

David Coskey, a spokesman for Adventure Golf South, said the deed for the Boardwalk property, negotiated about 85 years ago, came with certain rights, “including doing business on the beach.”

“They realized last week that was starting to cause some friction, so they were working with the mayor ... and they started not presetting all their chairs, because they were trying to be good neighbors,” Coskey said. “It wasn’t their intent to ruffle anybody’s feathers.”

In a statement released Monday, Mayor Jay Gillian thanked both companies involved in the deal.

“I want to thank the owners of both companies for agreeing to these terms at the request of the city,” Gillian said, “and I want everybody to know that the city will do whatever it takes to preserve public access to the beach on behalf of every resident, guest and business in town.”

There was some relief among beachgoers Monday.

Shevora Johnson, 52, and her husband, Melvin, 51, of Philadelphia, said they appreciated the newly freed-up space.

“It should be BYOC: Bring your own chair,” Shevora Johnson said. “It’s small enough without big chairs. ... It’s not a resort.”

Contact: 609-272-7260 Twitter @ACPressColtShaw

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