By LYNDON GERMAN of The Hopewell News
Public skepticism about the Boathouse at City Point led Assistant City Manager Charlie Dane to come before Hopewell City Council to clear the bad air. Dane reported revenue incurred by the Boathouse and the city for the past 7 weeks since it’s been operating.
Dane received this information from Kevin Healy from the Boathouse’s parent company Housepitality Family restaurant group. Dane told council that usually Healy is hesitant in reporting numbers this early in the process but the success is notable.
According to Dane’s information from Healy, in seven weeks the Boathouse at City Point has a net sales of $683,000. When pitching the project Dane and Healy made projections that if the Boathouse between $1 to $2 million a year, the city would make $100,000 to $150,000 in sales taxes. Although the business is still in its infancy, all signs are pointing to a good year.
Readers will recall that in August Hopewell’s City Council pledged 12 non-essential properties as collateral to finance a loan made by the Hopewell Economic Development Authority (EDA). The loan from EVB bank in the amount of $3.75 million was used to finance the construction of the Boathouse.
The property belongs to the old Navigator’s Den owner Haralambos Papanicolaou who leased it to the city. The City then leased it to the EDA who leased it to the Healy, the Boathouse owner.
The city leases the property for $42,500.
From the early numbers the city is slated to make $48,000 from sales tax and a portion of the state meal tax. The strong opening also shows a large number of patrons served. Hopewell has a recorded population of 22,378 in 2015 according to the U.S Census Bureau and the Boathouse has served them once over, serving 23,500 patrons.
“It’s been a very, very exciting start,” Dane said during the Council session.
After brief phone interview, Dane went on to clarify what the city pays towards multi-million dollar loan. The debt is not encumbered by the city, the EDA is responsible for paying of the loan. Through the lease agreement between the EDA and the Boathouse, the Boathouse pays a monthly payment to the EDA which includes its lease agreement and the debt services of the loan.
“They’re [The Boathouse] is paying a monthly lease payment to the EDA which includes the debt services of the build out.” The only cost the city has to adhere to is Haralambos Papanicolaou’s lease agreement.
While answering Dane admitted that the misinformation of the deal is understandable, but he has no problem answering questions, “People have the right to ask questions and we just give them the information as it comes in. Once they learn what the situation is they usually realize it’s a pretty good deal.”
Kevin Healy expressed the same optimism in his response to the momentum of excitement surrounding the Boathouse at City Point.
“First, we’re thrilled the Hopewell community has been so receptive to The Boathouse at City Point,” Healy responded. “In the restaurant industry, the early stages of a restaurant’s life are known as the ‘honeymoon period’. It’s the time that everyone wants to come out and try the new place in town. From my experience it can be short-lived and last a few weeks, or can last much longer. For example, when we opened The Boathouse at Rocketts Landing we believe the ‘honeymoon period’ lasted 18 months.”
Healy continued stating, “Naturally, we would love it to last a very long time.”
As far as early predictions, the Boathouse has far exceeded what Healy expected though he remains hopeful.
“We try to have cautiously optimistic expectations when we plan for a new restaurant, thus far however The Boathouse at City Point has performed above those expectations.”
What’s more important than the ‘honeymoon period’ is a sustainably success and from the support of Hopewell residents and administration that success is likely at hand.
“It’s very rewarding to see the success, especially after all the hard work on everyone’s part putting this deal together.
Mark Haley city manager, Charles Dane assistant city manager, Jake Elder economic development, and the entire City Council have all been terrific partners getting this project up and running as has the Hopewell EDA (Economic Development Authority) especially Deborah Randolph.”