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Featured Business: Boat House Pub & Eatery

1/7/2019 - Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau Staff

Downtown, Featured Business, Foodie, Lake Michigan
Boat House Pub & Eatery - owner Jim Matzur
Boat House Pub & Eatery
Boat House Pub & Eatery
Boat House Pub & Eatery
Boat House Pub & Eatery
Boat House Pub & Eatery - shore lunch

Kenosha resident Jim Matzur has owned many businesses, and yet he jokes he still doesn’t know what he’s going to do when he grows up! Jim and his business partner Dean Van Daalwyk founded Boat House Pub & Eatery in July 1992. The harborside restaurant in Downtown Kenosha takes full advantage of its location. An outdoor patio and enclosed deck with a wall of windows face the water, and feature the restaurant’s most highly sought-after seats. Courtesy docking for customers arriving by boat is available. A popular phrase at the restaurant is “You Hook ‘Em – We Cook ‘Em!” as they reel in Lake Michigan charter fishing groups. Customers may not realize that the restaurant actually got its start – fittingly – as a bait and tackle store!

Boat House Pub & Eatery is located at 4917 7th Avenue. Multiple businesses used to be housed on the property. In 1975, Jim had a bait and tackle store at the location, with rentable boat slips and gas pumps at the water for boaters. A popcorn/ice cream/hot dog stand would later be added. Then came a small restaurant and a fish store with fresh fish counters and the option to buy fish by the pound fried. Jim still offers rentable boat slips.

Adjacent to Jim’s business operations was an outdoors shop with a different owner. Jim purchased that space when it was an “empty, burned shell” after a fire. He out-bid another person at the auction despite going past the price he came prepared to pay. He found a few more dollars in his pocket and the building was his. He would combine the two separate buildings and use his carpentry skills to bring a new business to life with Dean: Boat House Pub & Eatery

How did the name of the restaurant come to be? Jim and Dean were life-long friends and neighbors in Kenosha. Dean’s father owned a boat house at the Kenosha harbor, which he purchased from automaker Charles Nash in the 1930s. It was always referred to as “the boat house.” Jim and Dean spent many summers enjoying the harbor and Lake Michigan, with Dean’s mother preparing many perch dinners. They named their restaurant in memory of that place and those dinners.

The restaurant’s number one seller since they opened has been the shore lunch – thus the phrase “You Hook ‘Em – We Cook ‘Em!”. You bring your freshly caught and cleaned fish, and the culinary team will prepare it for you. You have a choice of deep fried, broiled, or blackened – or you can have it all three ways! It’s served family style with cranberry coleslaw and French fries. “The people love it. It doesn’t get much better than fresh fish,” Jim says. They can also smoke your fresh catch – or you can purchase smoked fish that they have in stock. Local hunters can use this service too – with ducks, geese, and pheasants. Smoking services are charged by the pound.

The restaurant’s menu offers the best fish and seafood variety in Kenosha – available seven days a week including beer battered or broiled cod. The menu also offers a wide selection of tasty appetizers, steaks, pizza, burgers, soups, sandwiches, pasta entrees, and delicious martini desserts. There are more than 20 famous “Long Island” iced tea creations to choose from; each is a full quart. Breakfast on the weekends is transitioning to a Sunday brunch buffet (starting February 27, 2019).

Jim is very proud of the home smoked items on the menu. The kitchen staff cures and smokes fresh pork; smokes ribs; and cures and smokes chicken, which is often a special. Jim is a very hands-on owner. He’s at the restaurant every day – and in the summer, he works seven days a week smoking fish.

Entertainment is offered at the Boat House. Most Friday and Saturday evenings feature live music, while trivia is held on Thursday evenings. Happy Hour is offered Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m.

The Boat House has expanded over the years. There are now two kitchens, two bars, and multiple dining rooms. Banquet space is available; the designated banquet room comfortably seats 70 to 80 people. When using the adjacent dining room, up to 150 guests can be accommodated. There is a banquet menu, available online.

Always the entrepreneur, Jim also owns the nearby Merry Yacht Inn at 4815 7th Avenue. When the 19th century fire station built in 1889 became available, Jim put a bid in. He already owned nearby buildings and was concerned about the limited availability of street parking depending on what went in the space. His bid was accepted, and at the time, he had no plans for the space. He refurbished the building and lived in part of it. He ultimately decided to turn it into a boutique hotel. There are five private rooms. Each room includes a full bathroom with two to three double beds. There is a shared common space with a television, pool table, and more entertainment. In the summer, almost 100% of his customers are visiting the city to go charter fishing.

For a great view – paired with great food – visit the Boat House Pub & Eatery!

(262) 654-9922, http://boathousekenosha.com/

January 2019

Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau Staff

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