Ethel’s owner might make bid for recently closed Boathouse


Ethel’s owner Glenn Smith has hopes to take over the popular Kitchener music venue, The Boathouse. (Photo by Adele Palmquist)
Ethel’s owner Glenn Smith has hopes to take over the popular Kitchener music venue, The Boathouse. (Photo by Adele Palmquist)

Kitchener-based music venue, The Boathouse, was closed up earlier this month after the City of Kitchener found that its previous owner, Kevin Doyle, was five months overdue on rent and utility fees.

On Sept. 16, locks were changed at the venue with signs posted at the entrances saying, “closed until further notice.”

Starting in early October, city officials will be putting out requests for proposals for people to take over the business. Prospects will have one month to submit detailed plans for the 81-seat bar-restaurant.

One such proposal is coming from Glenn Smith, the current owner of Ethel’s Lounge on King St. N and co-owner of Frat Burger across from Wilfrid Laurier University.

Commenting on his decision to offer a proposal, Smith said he thought the Boathouse was a “cool spot” to set up a new business.

“It’s a cool thing and I think it would be fun to do,” he said.

Smith said his biggest challenge in renting out the building would be planning out what to actually do with the building.

“It’s a matter of figuring out what you’re doing to do, how you’re going to execute it,” he said. “It’s just about the right people, right systems and right market. You just have to move forward and do it.”

Smith also explained why he thinks the Boathouse is an important building to the community.

“I grew up in Kitchener, so I’ve sort of know that place my whole life,” he said. “I looked at it and it pained me to see how poorly it was operated over the past ten years.”

“It’s always been in the back of my mind.”

Smith used to own a blues bar on Queen Street South called Pop the Gator, so he is no stranger when it comes to running a concert venue like The Boathouse.

“It would be similar to what it is now, a live-music venue,” Smith said, regarding his plans for the venue. “I’d book indie bands to play here. I’d want a kitchen attached which would make it a nightclub with food available.”

While the venue is currently boarded up, the value it has to the City of Kitchener is not forgotten.

Glenn Smith believes it to be an important venue within the Kitchener cultural landscape as well. When asked about why he should be chosen by the city, he remarked that his previous experience with musical venues gives him an edge.

“I know more about it. No one else has the talent as much as I do to pull it off.”

The city also believes that as long as everything goes according to plan, a new operator for the Boathouse could be selected as early as Christmas, with the Boathouse reopening next summer after renovations are completed.

– With files from Ashley Denuzzo

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