Preservation Magazine, Summer 2015

Place Setting: Restaurants in Historic Boathouses

Drop anchor at three restaurants in historic boathouses.

Bluewater Boathouse

photo by: Bluewater Boathouse Seafood Grill

Bluewater Boathouse Seafood Grill
1701 Strand Way, Coronado, CA 92118
619.435.0155 |
| Seafood

Before the Hotel del Coronado became a San Diego–area landmark, local builders practiced their construction techniques on a small structure nearby. That four-story, Queen Anne–style test building, completed in 1887, became a boathouse, where a sea captain and his family lived and rented watercraft to tourists. It later housed the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and at least one local yacht club.

“This boathouse has always been the center of activity in Coronado,” says Joe Ditler, a local writer/historian who handles publicity for Bluewater Boathouse Seafood Grill, which opened in the space in June 2014. The new leaseholders gave the building—converted into a restaurant in 1968—much-needed upgrades, but its original windows still overlook Glorietta Bay.

Ditler recommends the lemon pepper mahi mahi and the do-it-yourself bloody mary bar on weekends.

OTB Bicycle Cafe

photo by: Emily Walley

Over the Bar Bicycle Cafe at the North Park Boathouse
10301 Pearce Mill Road, Allison Park, PA 15101
724.940.5000 |
| American

An avid mountain biker, restaurant owner Michael Kotyk was drawn to the imposing 1936 stone boathouse he noticed on rides around North Park, outside Pittsburgh. “I fell in love with it the minute I saw it,” he says.

The county-owned building had been underused for decades. Kotyk approached government officials in 2011 about opening a second location of his bicycle-themed restaurant, Over the Bar Bicycle Cafe, there. After year-long negotiations, he and the county established a public-private partnership. Kotyk and the team relocated wildlife and old canoes, and then repaired the slate roof and renovated the interior, adding reclaimed-wood booths. The open-air restaurant launched in October 2013.

The Dirt Rag Delight, a hamburger with pickles and handmade peanut butter, is a favorite. Wash it down with a local craft beer.

The Boathouse Restaurant

photo by: The Boathouse Restaurant

The Boathouse Restaurant
3210 Lake Shore Drive, Lake George, NY 12845
800.853.1632 |
| American, Seafood

On Millionaire’s Row, a 10-mile stretch along the west side of Lake George in upstate New York, wealthy families built sprawling summer estates in the mid-to late 1800s. New York Times publisher Alfred Ochs bought one of these estates in 1914 from philanthropist George Foster Peabody. Around the 1930s, it was purchased and turned into a hotel, and in 1985, a family with local ties re-opened it as The Lodges at Cresthaven resort.

The 1860s boathouse, long a casual snack bar, was transformed into a restaurant. Today, its owners remain dedicated to maintaining its 19th-century architecture. “It’s such an old building, and it’s right on the water, so it’s always a work in progress,” says Jayne Moskal, the resort’s event planner.

Diners arrive, often by boat, to feast on shrimp salad and filet mignon.

$ = Value, $10-19 per person
$$ = Moderate, $20-29 per person
$$$ = Expensive, $30-39 per person
$$$$ = Splurge, $40+ per person

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Check out three more boathouse restaurants.

Lauren Walser served as the Los Angeles-based field editor of Preservation magazine. She enjoys writing and thinking about art, architecture, and public space, and hopes to one day restore her very own Arts and Crafts-style bungalow.

Announcing the 2020 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

See the List