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Old 07-01-2012, 11:06 PM   #1
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Favorite Cafe

Hey all, I need some opinions on what kind of Oceanside Cafe you had visit or frequently visit and it sticks out in your memory or, you love going there. I have searched online for designs and ideas and have some but nothing like other opinions.

Since there isn't a Marina in my hometown, I have to keep the Ocean Breeze in a Marina about a three hour drive ( 6hr steam ). So I have been looking for a dock or wharf to keep my boat near home but it was hard to come by but recently the most ideal place became available so I purchased it. One of our dreams was someday open up a B&B and thought about doing it at the cottage on the lake but we haven't ventured that way yet. Then with the purchase of our boat we talked about setting up a boat touring business when I retire. With this property however comes another idea with the other two and as per this thread I am also looking at setting up a sea-side cafe too.

What is more interesting I found out that my home town have approved plans in putting a Marina in over the next couple of years and this newly purchased property becomes the mouth of that Marina. This will now combine all my future plans into one area. As far as I know there aren't many pull-up Oceanside Cafes or Restaurants around my area although we have visited one in particular which is about a three hour steam. The owners of that place seem to be doing very well and at any given time there are three or four boats tied up there.

I was also thinking of having a small laundry service and a small supply area too for nicknacks but all is in the planning stages.

Anyway, I would like some ideas on what attracts you or what you look for when visiting a Marina or a port. I know for me it is hanging out at Starbucks or Tim Hortons doing the social thing. A hot bowl of soup, a small snack, homemade food etc works for me.

This is a few years away but I like getting some ideas ahead of time then based receiving permits to do this, I would like to have the best plan in place when placing it all together.

Here is a picture of the Marina Break-Water plan ( Red outline ) and a picture of our new purchase property ( red outline ) where I plan on placing the cafe with a tie-up.


Once again this will be a 6yr plan to put in place.

Elwin
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Old 07-01-2012, 11:24 PM   #2
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I love going to waterfront eaterys. Simple food, fast service, outdoor seating, easy to get to dock, great view, liquor license. It can be a money maker. Oh ya, you also need a cat or cats wandering around. You could also combine your bed and breakfast idea with your boat. People will pay to stay on the boat even if it doesn't leave the dock. One of my customers did that for several years before she converted to a full charter service.
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Old 07-01-2012, 11:25 PM   #3
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Bistro 17 - Hilton Head Island, French Restaurant in Shelter Cove Harbour

Coconuts - Fort Lauderdale, Fl

Bimini Boatyard

Captain Woody's Bar & Grill : Hilton Head Island & Bluffton, SC

These are just a few that we like. There are plenty more. Some like Tubby's Tank House in Thunderbolt Ga are not directly on the water.

SavannahMenu.com: Tubby's Tank House - Thunderbolt
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Old 07-02-2012, 03:38 AM   #4
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Anyway, I would like some ideas on what attracts you or what you look for when visiting a Marina or a port.
There are a number of small, somewhat funky marinas in BC, some of which have excellent restaurants and pubs associated with them. Ones we really like are at:

Genoa Bay
Maple Bay
Ganges
Telegraph Cove
Silva Bay
Telegraph Harbor

We are not social boaters so the notion of sitting around with a bunch of people yacking about boats or whatever is not on our agenda. So we avoid like the plague the noisy, upmarket marinas in our area like Roche Harbor, Deer Harbor, Poet's Cove, etc.

We prefer the more laid back, funky marinas and harbors like the ones listed above. I assume most or all of them have websites so you can look them up and get an idea of what they're like.

We like a fairly simple menu but done well. We really like restaurants that try to use local products as much as possible. That's pretty easy in the Gulf Islands in BC as there is a fair amount of truck farming, sheep, cattle, and fishing going on in the islands. It's nice to be able to sit and look out at the water, too. A few of the places listed above--- particularly Genoa Bay--- have restaurants that have become fairly famous in this area due to really great and imaginative chefs.

I'm not much of a drinker-- the only beer worth drinking in my opinion is Guinness or a comparable heavy stout and I only drink red wine. But it's nice if the restaurant has a broad range of wines (which doesn't automatically mean expensive) so as to appeal to a wide range of tastes. And it's especially nice if the restaurant has a good selection of wines by the glass. Usually one or at most two glasses is all I want with a meal; I don't want to have to buy a bottle.

Noisy TVs tuned to some stupid sports event are a real turn-off for us. We don't boat to listen to a) other people, b) TVs or jukeboxes, or c) other people. Some of the waterfront restaurants up the coast have live music from time to time and we've always found this to be quite nice. The music runs the gamut from jazz to Celtic to local folk to blues, etc.

In terms of facilities, water on the docks is good. So is groundpower. A laundry can come in handy but it's not a make-or-break amenity for us since there are plenty of ports with laundries scattered throughout the area. If the marina is in a larger community easy access to a grocery store is nice.

So that's what we like when it comes to marinas and marina-based restaurants. I get the impression from reading this forum that we boat for somewhat different reasons than many or most of the other participants, and as such we deliberately avoid and discourage social contact when we're on the boat other than with the couple of people we enjoy boating with. So I suspect other responses to your query will put more emphasis on the social aspect of marinas and their associated restaurants.
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Old 07-02-2012, 06:33 AM   #5
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Tks Marin, I believe I will leave the Restaurant part ( meals ) to the Marina but a local dish for a lunch special and maybe a breakfast menu will be popular plus local deserts. Something that will not take an hour to serve. Agree with the loud TV but maybe the weather station or business station running low in one corner etc.
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Old 07-02-2012, 11:51 AM   #6
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Hop on a plane and come down and see Cabbage Key. Something like this and you can get the yachties and the fishermen alike, not to snobby and just dive-ish enough to be chic. Nice low key menu but made with quality stuff and fixed just right. One of the big deals is be sure you have a nice sized dinghy dock for those who don't want to dock their biggun.

Florida Island vacation resort and marina on Cabbage Key in Southwest Florida

Another popular place is Doc Ford's Ft Myers Beach but I think it may be a bit more than you want to do. But you can check them out anyway.

We have tons of water-front joints down here if you ever wanted to do a research trip you could hit nearly every type imaginable within a 30 mile stretch.
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Old 07-02-2012, 01:10 PM   #7
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Agree with the loud TV but maybe the weather station or business station running low in one corner etc.
On the other hand, you're in Canada so I would think having a TV on during the hockey playoffs and championship would be almost mandatory if you want any business at all in your establishment. And we actually don't mind that. It's the constant yammering of football, baseball, basketball, NASCAR, etc., etc., etc. that you get in US pubs that is real turn-off to us.

As to your docks, you're on the east coast so mooring cleats are probably the norm, but we really like bullrails on docks. Lets you fasten lines anywhere you want and also provides a step up onto the boat. The best arrangements are bullrails with cleats on them. But I suspect most east coast boaters don't know what a bullrail is and wouldn't know what to do with it if they came across one. Although I can't remember what was used most commonly in the lobster ports on PEI. So if you use cleats on your docks, I suggest you at least use plenty of them.
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Old 07-02-2012, 02:05 PM   #8
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I'm sure we all wish you the best of fortunes in a venture like this. Since you have plenty of time, it'll give you the opportunity to research all aspects of the project. One of my boys is in the hospitality business, has been an exec chef at several well-known restaurants, and he'll tell you the one thing to avoid is the "If we build it, they will come" assumption. If you can figure out who your customers are going to be, you'll have a much better plan for meeting their needs, in terms of menu, "ambiance" etc.

As in most boating areas with "seasons" we have seen a number of well-run restaurants come and go, and seasonality is one of the real issues you'll need to think about. It impacts not only the number of customers you can expect, but attracting/retaining staff, etc. If you only have a customer base during the boating season, you'd better have a plan for the rest of the year. Even here in the Carolinas there are many places (eg Ocracoke) that close down for the winter.
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Old 07-02-2012, 04:15 PM   #9
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^^^this is a must in seasonal areas. the
Doc Ford rest. that I mentioned gets most of its business via auto not boat. so you need to be in an area that will have car traffic or atleast have a draw that will make people drive to your location.
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Old 07-02-2012, 06:04 PM   #10
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On the other hand, you're in Canada so I would think having a TV on during the hockey playoffs and championship would be almost mandatory if you want any business at all in your establishment. And we actually don't mind that. It's the constant yammering of football, baseball, basketball, NASCAR, etc., etc., etc. that you get in US pubs that is real turn-off to us.

As to your docks, you're on the east coast so mooring cleats are probably the norm, but we really like bullrails on docks. Lets you fasten lines anywhere you want and also provides a step up onto the boat. The best arrangements are bullrails with cleats on them. But I suspect most east coast boaters don't know what a bullrail is and wouldn't know what to do with it if they came across one. Although I can't remember what was used most commonly in the lobster ports on PEI. So if you use cleats on your docks, I suggest you at least use plenty of them.
We do too have bull rails. This is the Union Jack dinghy dock in Marsh Harbour.

http://www.amarse.net/UPDATE%20IMAGE...0/02UP1015.jpg
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Old 07-02-2012, 08:02 PM   #11
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Great idea TW77, I have lots of family in Florida during the winter. Cabbage Key is a different kinda name but looks interesting from the website. Never even thought about the dingy dock or smaller boat dock.. good point.

Marin, there are bullrails, cleats and piles on most wharfs or docks so lots of different set-ups. I do like the bullrail idea the best though.

I agree AR no people no business, not knowing who the potential customers are, with end up little success. Gotta list already of the local breakfast / lunches & deserts that draw the locals as well as the tourist. All will be on the down-home homemade style food, not to overlook the local accordion music. For those that don't know our music is similar to the New Orleans music. When I was there for three months it made me feel at home.

Elwin
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Old 07-02-2012, 08:32 PM   #12
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Not surprised about the music, Breeze. After all, "Cajun" is derived from "Acadian", and we all had to read Evangeline, right?? Actually, I have a little more history up that way; my dad was born in Oxford NS.
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Old 07-02-2012, 09:05 PM   #13
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Ok, I've figured it out - I thought I was going mad there for a bit - you know - early Alzheimers or something. I knew I put a post on the Favorite Cafe thread, but it seemed to have disappeared - then it reappeared - then disappeared again. Now I find there two threads with the same moniker - one in Off Topic - one in General Discussion....whew the relief....Were you just messin' with my/our minds Ocean Breeze...?
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Old 07-02-2012, 09:15 PM   #14
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Bull rails are prevalent Downeast. Sometimes mixed with cleats, sometimes not. Sometimes cleats only. Our little yacht club:
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Old 07-02-2012, 09:17 PM   #15
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When we put our boat in Bellingham there was a wonderful dockside restaurant overlooking the north basin called Luigi's (IIRC). Extremely popular, always full, had great basic food from French onion soup to pizzas, everything could be taken out and back to your boat if you desired. There was an outside deck that was extremely popular when the the weather permitted. Luigi's food wasn't fancy but the menu was extremely varied, the quality was high, and the prices were acceptable. No matter what your budget, there was something good on the menu that met it.

Then the people that owned it decided to quit the business so they sold the restaurant to another couple who had dreams of creating a more upscale waterfront restaurant with a more sophisticated (and expensive) menu.

The food was good but the whole approach just wasn't "right" for the environment and the restaurant failed miserably. It was purchased by a fellow who has another restaurant up in Blaine and while it is doing better, it is still a far cry from the old Luigi's.

All this in the same building with the same view. I know nothing about the restaurant/pub business but it's obvious there are "forumulas" that click and ones that don't. Correctly identifying the customer base is a major factor as others have said. From our waterfront experiences here, in BC, SE Alaska, Maine, and PEI, capturing the locals (commercial fishermen, yard workers, floatplane pilots, etc.) seems to be a real key to success. The best places we've eaten in Petersburg, Ketchikan, Maine and PEI all had mostly locals from the various waterfront businesses as their customer base. And this popularity with the locals made the establishments interesting and intriguing to the visitors.
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Old 07-02-2012, 10:27 PM   #16
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Most waterside restaurants I know have far more land traffic than boat traffic. The boats do provide some extra business, but they are more of a draw for the land crowd than boat crowd. Some will let you tie up overnight. Sanitary Seafood Restaurant in Morehead City used to do that. I'm not sure if they still do. It would be difficult to make it on boating business alone.
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Old 07-02-2012, 10:55 PM   #17
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When I was a teenager (1960s), my Dad docked his boat a couple times a year at Sam's Anchor Cafe in Tiburon (across the bay from San Francisco). While I usually ordered a hamburger, Dad unfailingly ordered an abalone sandwich, which, unfortunately, is no longer on the menu. The restaurant is still in business, so must be doing something right.

Sam's Anchor Cafe Menus
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Old 07-02-2012, 10:58 PM   #18
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Most waterside restaurants I know have far more land traffic than boat traffic.
True. One of the best dockside restaurants on the inside coast of Vancouver Island is at Genoa Bay. This restaurant has become a popular destination for the many car clubs (Austin Healey, Morgan, pre-war vintage, etc) that are based in and around the greater Victoria area. And people come from the surrounding communities on the island, too.
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Old 07-03-2012, 07:38 AM   #19
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My favorite -

Reckless Ric's Bar & Grill - 410-590-2280

As you can see on the webpage, there are a string of other places owned by the same guy. He has certainly cracked the code on how to do this.
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Old 07-03-2012, 08:34 AM   #20
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My favorite -

Reckless Ric's Bar & Grill - 410-590-2280

As you can see on the webpage, there are a string of other places owned by the same guy. He has certainly cracked the code on how to do this.
Doesn't look like my kind of place Darrel. I guess I'm too old for the bikers and wet teeshirt contests with my crabcakes..... Maybe 20-30 years ago.

Diffrent strokes.
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