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.