Price fixing allegations at Balloon Fiesta park
Posted at: 08/02/2012 10:51 PM
| Updated at: 08/02/2012 11:26 PM
By: Jill Galus, KOB Eyewitness News 4
It is a fight that has gone on for weeks.
The company in charge of the food vendors at this year's Balloon Fiesta wants the vendors to pay higher fees.
But one vendor told KOB Eyewitness News 4, this goes way beyond fees; he is accusing Ovation Food Services of gouging and price-fixing.
The vendor claims he is one of many who wants to be able to run his business the same way he has been for years, but said, Ovation will not let him.
"I would prefer to sell two burritos at $5 each than one at $8, for sure," Marcus Cassimus, who has been a food vendor at Balloon Fiesta for the past 16 years, said.
Cassimus added $8 is the new fixed price Ovation is telling him he has to charge for his burritos.
"The customer, man, that's going to be a hard pill for them to swallow," Cassimus said. "The more you charge, especially in an economy like this, the less you're going to make."
Attorney Pete Dinelli represents 24 food vendors at Balloon Fiesta.
Ovation is the same company that manages concessions at Isotopes Park, Dinelli said.
"At Isotopes Park, they in fact have price-fixing," he said.
While price-fixing is not included in Ovation's current one-year contract with Balloon Fiesta, Dinelli said it is a real concern and possibility.
"We have not been given anything in writing that that will never happen, and that's the bottom line," Dinelli said. "It may not happen this year, but there's concerns it may happen next year, or the year after."
Balloon Fiesta Communications Director Tom Garrity said ithe allegations come across as ridiculous.
"It's a free market.," he said. "Restaurant entrepre neurs are free spirits and are going to operate their restaurants and their food vendor operations the way they want to be profitable."
Ovation denied all claims of possible price-fixing and a spokesperson added, the company will only advise vendors on cost-efficiency. There are typically up to 70 vendor booths each year at Balloon Fiesta, Garrity said.
"These vendors are just as important to adding to the ambiance of Balloon Fiesta as the balloons themselves," Dinelli said. "It'd be a sad commentary if Balloon Fiesta park no longer has the breakfast burrito."