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Round of golf leads to restaurant adventure

Winnipeg’s Gregory Corbett is the new managing partner for the Boathouse Lakeside Grill in Kenora.

KENORA – A conversation during a round of golf led to a new adventure for Gregory Corbett.

The Winnipeg product became the new managing partner for the Boathouse Lakeside Grill in Kenora last October.

“I didn’t know the group of three silent partners as owners of the Boathouse, but I knew them as individuals from businesses that I dealt with on a day-to-day basis,” said Corbett, who is also the vice-president of operations for IDK Interactive Ltd., a digital touch screen company.

“One thing sort of led to another a year-and-a-half ago after that chat and it took a little bit of time to get our team together from the executive chef, front of the house manager, director of hospitality and head bartender.

“You want to execute all of the plans but it takes some time to get everyone’s ducks in a row.”

Starting a new venture in Kenora wasn’t a totally foreign concept for Corbett as he’s come to the area frequently over the last six years.

“My fiancée and I just fell in love with the lake and really enjoyed our weekends up here,” Corbett said.

“So when this opportunity came along, I couldn’t pass up on the chance.”

Since having a soft launch in March, Corbett and his team have been busy putting their touches on the Boathouse, which is located on Matheson Street South and is on the north shore of Lake of the Woods.

Although it’s still early days, Corbett said he’s received great feedback from the local community and the cabin goers.

“People are telling me ‘Kenora deserves a place like this’ with a little bit of a higher-end steak and seafood, the white tablecloths on the table and that kind of thing,” Corbett added.

“With that said, you can still roll up here on your boat and come on in with your board shorts on. That’s not an issue here.”

A big part of the change is a new menu – one that Corbett calls casual fine dining – that was put together by executive chef Richard Mohammad.

The pair had worked together in the past on a Caribbean Fusion food truck called Island Fusion in Winnipeg before Mohammad ventured out to work on various projects throughout the country.

“He was involved in his own endeavour before this and I contacted him to say ‘Hey, why don’t you come out here and do this with me,’’’ Corbett said.

“The menu is night and day different from what was here before. There was a steak sandwich, but there were no steaks, no lobster and none of those gourmet options.”

In terms of what’s been the most popular items since the relaunch, Corbett said that is always changing depending on who’s coming through the doors.

“It kind of goes through different waves we find,” Corbett said. “During the May long weekend, our fish dishes and the fish and chips absolutely killed it, but the week before it was more of the sandwiches and the steaks.

“In those scenarios, we kind of chalked it up to the cabin goers that are coming in from Winnipeg and wanting to eat some fish while they are at the lake, while the locals are used to having fish and want to try something different.

“There’s a balance that you want to maintain and you don’t want to push away any one demographic. We want to be able to cater to everyone and I think our chef has done a really great job of doing that with the upper echelon items to the starter options - to find the price points that fit all budgets.”

In addition to establishing their new menu, Corbett and his team are also working on an outdoor covered patio called the “LOTW Drill Co.” Launch Pad, which they hope to have fully operation by the Canada Day long weekend.

They also have a short-term, medium-term and long-term list of goals they would like to accomplish.

“There are quite a few things that we do have planned, but we can pivot and adapt to what we think is working,” Corbett said.

“One of the things that we’re planning on doing is extending our docks to get into boat rentals, so that we can get the tourists and people from all different walks of life involved.

“Plus, we want to have the locals involved with weekly specials.”

More information on the Boathouse Lakeside Grill can be found on their website and Facebook page.