Commission overrules staff on jail food bid

Clark County commissioners voted 5-2 on Tuesday to hire a more expensive food service provider for the Clark County Detention Center after the company protested the bid outcome.

The vote gives Aramark Correctional Services a $5 million annual contract.

County staff had passed over Aramark’s bid in favor of New Era Foods Co. of San Ramon, Calif.

New Era Foods Co. had pegged the 11,000-meals-a-day contract at $4.74 million, or roughly a quarter-million less annually than Aramark.

Aramark, which currently holds the contract for the detention center, didn’t want to lose the business.

Aramark officials convinced the county that its competitor didn’t have the necessary experience in food service for a large jail.

“You don’t start with a 4,000-inmate facility,” said Chris Kaempfer, an attorney representing Aramark. “You start smaller, and you build up your experience.”

New Era Foods Co. owner James Franklin Davis countered that, showing county officials he has recruited former Aramark managers with extensive jail experience in large facilities to manage that contract if he wins it.

Commissioners Lawrence Weekly and Chris Giunchigliani cast the dissenting votes.

“I do think at some point you have to let people get started,” Giunchigliani said.

Commissioner Larry Brown said that New Era’s lack of food service experience in jails was something he was not comfortable with.

“It’s not that I don’t think you could do the job, but there’s a tremendous risk with the lack of past experience,” he said.

Contact reporter Ben Botkin at or 702-405-9781. Follow him on Twitter @BenBotkin1.