Boathouse bidder Danny Michel sees "lots of potential" in the iconic music venue, restaurant and bar located in the heart of Kitchener's Victoria Park, telling The Morning Edition host Craig Norris Tuesday, "you won't recognize it, if we get our hands on it." 

Michel and his business partner, Ethel's Lounge owner/operator Glenn Smith, are among three potential bidders for the music venue after the City of Kitchener took control of the property in September when former operator Kevin Doyle fell behind on rent and utilities. 

"We're going to have everything, we're going to have world music, Latin, jazz, folk and some blues. So it's not going to be anything. It's going to be a music hall for music," Michel said.  

The Boathouse would also get a new name, and a new sign, the pair plan to rename the venue Jubilee Music Hall, using a vintage sign that will be refurbished. 

"I bought that sign at the Aberfoyle flea market about 10 years ago and it said 'Capitol Music Hall' on it," he said. "So I Photoshopped it, me and Glenn did it to see what it would look like." 


A vintage sign purchased by singer/songwriter Danny Michel (left) in Aberfoyle and a mockup of how he and Ethel's Lounge owner/operator Glenn Smith (right) plan to refurbish the sign and incorporate it into their vision for the Boathouse in Victoria Park. (Facebook)

Michel stopped short of describing what the re-envisioned Jubliee Music Hall would look like, saying he and his business partner are still learning more about the venue. 

"Next we do a walk-through with the city and ask all the questions we want to ask and get some answers," he said. "Then we put together a proposal and see what happens." 

Michel said even if his proposal isn't the winning one, he hopes the venue brings its new owner and the community lots of success.

"I think it's important for this to be there for the community," he said. "Whoever gets it, I hope they do a great job." 

Competitors join forces

Meanwhile, Michel and Smith's only competitors for the venue, Cory Crossman of KOI Music Festival and Bill MacTavish, the owner/operator of Imbibe in downtown Kitchener, have joined forces. 

"It makes for a better venue," Crossman told The Morning Edition host Craig Norris Tuesday. "It allows us to focus more on music, which we excel in and it allows Bill to focus more on the culinary aspect and the dining experience, which he's excelled in."

MacTavish said he has a comfortable working relationship with Crossman, who he brings 10 years of of putting together concerts to the table.

"We've done a significant amount of work with Cory," he said. "He's put programming at Imbibe and just being downtown on different boards, we've done a significant amount of work together."

Crossman said the duo can deliver what performers and concert-goers want into one venue. 

"Our vision is pretty clear at this point," he said.  "The biggest thing is creating a vibrant atmosphere that serves the community well, something that we want to bring to it though, is the premiere music venue."

"We want excellent sound, excellent lighting, a great space to watch a band, it's comfortable for the artist to perform in as well as a great dining experience." 

Crossman and MacTavish have been on-site twice and have met with an architect.

The due believes they can deliver a venue that hosts international, national and local performing artists under one roof, but the next step involves describing their vision to city hall. 

"Essentially we just have to put everything on paper and get it to the city," MacTavish said. 

Both teams of bidders have until November 15 to submit their business plans.  City staff and councillors will look at the plans, with a final decision on who will operate the venue expected in December.