Watermark Restaurant set to turn over Kitsilano Beach lease to Boathouse chain

Just five years into its 20-year lease with the park board, Watermark Restaurant will cease operations at Kitsilano Beach.

Peter Barnett, who oversaw the Watermark’s opening in July 2005, told the Straight that it is time to move on. At month’s end, Watermark leaseholder Barnett Family Holdings Inc. is set to hand over operations to Boathouse Restaurants of Canada Inc.

“So we’ve been working on this project now for pretty close to eight years, and, you know, the time comes when you are happy and content, and then someone comes and offers you money for a project,” Barnett said . “You sometimes stop and think, ”˜Hey, why not?’”

At its meeting on Monday (April 19), the Vancouver park board will vote on transferring the lease.

In discussing how the last five years have gone for him personally, the 71-year-old Barnett said the decision to call it a day was “pretty straightforward”.

“I had a heart attack four years ago,” he said. “It put me on a difficult track. I lost my ability to speak for six months, and I was in rehabilitation for two and a half years. So, my son [David] took over the business, and he basically was in the restaurant industry, and he had a number of operations around the country. And it just put a great strain on him. I am still not functioning fully.”

However, Barnett said his health is improving and, following a recent stay at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Florida, he has cut his medication down from 13 pills to two doses a day.

“One of the doctors said to me, ”˜Do you really want to take 13 pills a day?’” Barnett said. “I said no, I want to get off it. So we worked for four weeks and I am now down to two medications. I feel very, very happy and very comfortable.”

Barnett said the decision on Watermark was reached following family discussions with his sons David and Jonathan and ex-wife Shirley. Barnett said he will continue to be a silent partner in a pub in Vernon.

“My partner is running it,” he said. “It’s doing very well.”

According to Barb Floden, communications coordinator at the park board, the terms of the lease will be the same for the Boathouse, assuming the board approves the transfer.

The company will pay 6.5 percent of gross revenues to the park board, minus $800,000—plus any financing costs—over 10 years.

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14 Comments

Say What?!

Apr 13, 2010 at 3:49pm

“One of the doctors said to me, ”˜Do you really want to take 13 pills a day?’” Barnett said. “I said no, I want to get off it. So we worked for four weeks and I am now down to two medications. I feel very, very happy and very comfortable.”

THANKS MATT. REALLY TO THE POINT.

Tennis Joe.

Apr 14, 2010 at 8:01am

This place failed 'cause it served bad food, at high prices, and the service was poor. And the concrete and steel building is cold and noisy, hardly appropriate for the setting. And the Park Board had fair warning on all these issues. How about some accountability for the poor job done by Park Board staff, particularly as they have just announced another questionable project that will destroy the ambiance at English Bay.

Matthew Burrows

Apr 14, 2010 at 9:42am

Say What?!

“One of the doctors said to me, ”˜Do you really want to take 13 pills a day?’” Barnett said. “I said no, I want to get off it. So we worked for four weeks and I am now down to two medications. I feel very, very happy and very comfortable.”

JUST QUOTING WHAT THE MAN SAID ACCURATELY.

Moeamar

Apr 14, 2010 at 1:48pm

Is it just me, or is the boat house overrated? Both times Ive been there, its not good quality for the price, and long wait times. How about a hot dog stand instead?

penelope valbon

Apr 15, 2010 at 11:45am

I fail to see any relevance of how many pills a man had to take after a health problem to the lease transfer of a restaurant. Are there any issues the public should know about? It surely must have been a slow news day.

Christopher Victor

Apr 15, 2010 at 10:06pm

This was a horrific and utterly inappropriate change in public land use policy and should never have been approved in the first place. Private enterprise has absolutely no business developing public lands, let alone parks. Its time to put the bulldozers to the cruddy building and fire some Parks staff. Its also time to demand some accountability from the politicians who seem to think that it is appropriate to alter the sanctity of park lands to help out their corporate supporters.

It Failed, Really?!!!

Apr 15, 2010 at 10:08pm

So the Parks Board staff choose a rambling old codger clearly not capable of operating a decent restaurant, who used his family's wealth to bully a development permit out of the City, build a monster resto thinking he was going to clean up, and a thoughtful group of citizens had the balls to stand up to him but both the PB and City let it happen.... And now we are left with an eyesore in what used to be a lovely waterfront park that needs to be passed on, no doubt at a big discount, to some soulless American owned chain who will serve clam chowder and fish and chips to tourists.

Wasn't this predictable and why is English Bay now being wrecked with another one of these?

cooley

Apr 17, 2010 at 8:54am

i just want to go have a glass of wine with my love at the beach...alone, yet this is illegal. When did alcohol leave the peasants hands?

hard on pete

Apr 18, 2010 at 12:37pm

i just want aloonie bay of chips and a toonie hamburger.

Accountability anyone??

Apr 19, 2010 at 8:09am

Maybe Matt can ask those boosters of the project why it went ahead in the face of tremendous opposition, much of which accurately predicted it would fail.

Why did the Park Board violate zoning and a public park trust to push this unprecedented use of public waterfront, and why are they doing it again at English Bay just as news of Watermark's failure is coming to light??

Susanne Anton, then a Park Board Commissioners, now a councilor, was such a booster she earned the title Susanne Antoinette for her quips about sipping chardonnay on the deck (presumably while the lower classes play under her regal gaze below in the second class part of the park, the "landscaping" as her class is wont to call that portion of the park). A quote from her or the other "let them eat cake" boosters would be appreciated rather than details of some old guy's aches and pains..