NOVEMBER 17, 2021 – 8:31 PM

“It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later.”

Those were the words uttered by Greg Annesley as he and his wife Nancy handed over their ownership stake of the Boathouse Seafood Restaurant to Tom and Crystal Mantis on Wednesday evening.

The Annesley’s took hold of the business near Meyers Pier on South Front St. 21 years ago after their arrival from Whitby, starting it as a small, cafe-style eating spot with only 30 seats, a bar, and a kitchen and turning it into a 200-plus seat restaurant employing no fewer than 60 staff members.

“The cooking area for the kitchen where the hood system is, is exactly the same as it was 21 years ago,” Greg Annesley explained.

“That’s been a challenge, to ramp up food production from 21 years ago, when it was only a few plates here and there to what they do today. It’s pretty amazing.”

Annesley said it also took a little bit of time to try different menus and foods that people may like before they eventually settled on fish and chips.

Despite not being a chef, Annesley explained he was able to create a thin, crispy batter for the fish, which turned out to be a massive hit with patrons.

That started the whole movement of sorts for this type of restaurant, he said, and it helped them capture the market.

“Back then, there were several other places, Mariners and Lobster Trap, and there might have been a few others. Eventually, as we grew and got popular, they went out of business.”

Annesley explained they have come a long way in the industry since it opened as a breakfast spot in the spring of 2000.

The Boathouse has now been a “destination spot” for many residents of the region, and tourists visiting Belleville or Prince Edward County.

Now, it’s time for the torch to be passed, Annesley said, as a double whammy scenario of massive flooding that closed the building down for several months in 2017 and 2019 and the pandemic in 2020 led to financial and personal difficulties.

The immediate and long-term future of the restaurant is in good hands with the Mantis’, with Annesley saying they both see the same vision for the area.

A presentation shown at the event outlined plans for the restaurant’s expansion on the property, including the addition of a boutique hotel, with a couple of extra restaurants and eateries overlooking the Bay of Quinte, among other endeavours.

Tom Mantis explained he got connected to Annesley through a person in the real estate business, which they both work in.

Coming from Ajax, Mantis said he was immediately enamored with the Boathouse’s location on the water and its potential.

“I actually came out in the wintertime for the first time. And I saw the skaters out on the pond, the lake was frozen at the time,” he said.

“I looked at it and said “oh my god, I feel like I’m in a Norman Rockwell setting here. Right away, I thought it was one of the most beautiful pictures I’ve been able to witness and I was thinking to myself, how beautiful would it be to share this with other people.”

Mantis assured that there will be no changes to the core of the business and said the foundation of any future plans is one where staff is integral to its vision.

“By my standards, he has a great group of people who were dedicated to this place, they love this place, and they support and build this place.”

The new concept can potentially generate upwards of $3 million in income back into the community.

Annesley said he is grateful for the community’s support over the years, and he’s excited to see where the restaurant will go from here.

“It’s time to pass the baton to Tom and have him realize the dreams that we also have and I couldn’t be happier.”

The full presentation of the Mantis’ future plans can be seen below. (Credit to C Squared Inc.)

The Boathouse Event Presentation