The City of Kitchener received six proposals for the Boathouse in Victoria Park by Tuesday's deadline. The live music venue was closed in September and the locks were changed after the previous operator, Kevin Doyle, failed to make rent and utility payments for five months.

Kitchener's Executive Director of economic development Rod Regier says city staff will take a close look at each proposal and narrow down a list to present to council.

 "We're looking for their vision for the facility - not a detailed business plan right now, but we'll get to that in the next stage. And we're looking to make sure they have the financial capacity to execute the project with us." 

Among those who submitted a proposal are:

  • Glenn Smith, who owns Ethel's Lounge in Uptown Waterloo.
  • Bill MacTavish, the owner of Imbibe, the restaurant/bar at TheMuseum in Kitchener
  • Curt and Cory Crossman, who own ARC Cloathing and Civilian Printing, and run the KOI Music Festival 

MacTavish: Make it family friendly

"It's obviously a phenomenal - and has been- a phenomenal music venue, I feel it can do a lot more than that," said Bill MacTavish, the current owner and operator of Imbibe.

"I feel the focus was strictly on music, and I do intend to keep that focus there, but also broaden it a little more."

MacTavish cited the Tavern on the Green restaurant in New York City's Central Park as a model for what he has in mind for the Boathouse. 

"A restaurant that people will feel comfortable bringing their kids to, I want to make it very family friendly," says MacTavish.

"Victoria Park is used by all kinds of people and I feel like the Boathouse, as it was being used, was targeting one specific audience."

Other visions for the Boathouse

Cory and Curt Crossman want to focus on the Boathouse's role as a music venue.

"We envision this new venture to exist primarily as sort of a broad range live music venue...that will continue to be open to all forms of music with the goal to enrich the music community," said Cory Crossman. 

The Crossman brothers have plenty of experience programming live music through the annual KOI Music Festival, which they started in 2010 with 135 bands and has grown in size since then.

Glenn Smith, who owns Ethel's Lounge in Uptown Waterloo, also sees the Boathouse as primarily a live music venue and he even wants to rename it to Pop the Gator, after a club he used to operate on Queen Street.

"It's a beautiful building, a beautiful size, beautiful structure, beautiful- even the set-up isn't that bad, it's sitting beside a gorgeous lake in the middle of Kitchener that has just recently been completely cleaned up," said Smith in a September interview with the CBC.

Next Steps

Now that the city of Kitchener has received the proposals, it will evaluate them and then notify the bidders who made the short list. Between 3 to 5 bids will continue to the next round.

The bidders are then required to submit a second response with more details, including a business plan and design and renovation plans.

City staff will evaluate those responses and are scheduled to submit the proposals to council in a meeting in early December.