Imbibe owner takes over the Boathouse

When the Boathouse restaurant and music venue in Kitchener’s Victoria Park area shut down in September, many citizens were worried about what was to become of one of the most beloved venues in town. Thanks to restaurateur Bill MacTavish, the city-owned building will be getting a fresh start.

MacTavish, owner of Imbibe Food ‘n Drink in downtown Kitchener, has won the bid to operate the Boathouse, and together with the City of Kitchener council will renovate the restaurant to transform it into a completely new venue.

“The menu is definitely going to be overhauled. We’re going to have a full kitchen in there and focus on local food and produce,” he said. “There’s an intimacy at Imbibe that I think we can only provide because of the size of the venue. I feel like the Boathouse has to be more structured and put together more professionally. It’s a significantly larger project so there’s a lot more planning going into that.”

Interior renovation plans are still ongoing, but MacTavish’s goal is a rustic industrial look. The City of Kitchener also revealed that the plans include doubling the seat capacity, improvements to the washrooms, and upgrading the lighting and sound systems.

“I really like the combination of wood and metal so we’re definitely going for that. We’re still working on the interior design as we speak,” MacTavish said. 

Entertainment for various age groups is planned, with student focused events in the works.

“We’re hoping to target a younger demographic including people of the student age,” said MacTavish. “We’ll have certain nights where beer is cheaper and some menu items are cheaper, and events for sure. Just in terms of the music we decide to put in the venue, we want to work with the student population.”

MacTavish hopes to have all the renovations completed in time for mid to late June and is ecstatic to be in charge of reviving such a well-loved Kitchener location.