Island Boatyard owners hope renovated space will be home to new eatery

JULIE LANE PHOTO | James Brantuk has been managing his family’s Island Boatyard and Marina and is now seeking someone to lease and operate the newly renovated restaurant and bar overlooking West Neck Harbor.

More than two years after the Island Boatyard & Marina closed its restaurant, deli and Shipwreck Bar operation, the owners are looking to lease their newly renovated space to a new tenant.

James Brantuk is the son of one owner and the nephew of the other two. His father, Joseph Brantuk, and his uncles, Richard and Thomas Walsh, own the boatyard and marina.

Manager James Brantuck, the son of co-owner Joseph Brantuk, is not divulging the asking price, but he’s willing to help support the right person who wants to run the restaurant side of the operation. At the same time, he said he’s not going to lease it for too low a price.

“I’d rather let it sit empty for two months.”

Mr. Brantuk hopes the space will be leased to someone hoping to run a family-oriented restaurant serving fresh fish, hamburgers and hotdogs at affordable prices.

“The goal is to have someone come in with a long-range plan in mind.”

The marina has been in the family since the mid 1980s, but three years ago, the three business partners huddled together to decide whether to invest or divest and concentrate their efforts on the family-owned Walsh Messenger Service. Luring Mr. Brantuk from his financial services job in New York City to manage the Island-based marina and boatyard was no small part of their decision to put more than $1 million into renovations and keep the operation in the family.

“I’m the boots on the ground guy to make it happen,” he said. “Not only have we recommitted, but we’ve been extremely aggressive.” The family has rebuilt docks, spruced up the grounds and totally renovated the restaurant, deli and pub space. The kitchen equipment is all totally new, right down to every piece of silverware.

New windows and doors, bathroom renovations and even a refurbished office for the marina manager have also been part of the job. They even invested in new double-lined fuel tanks. And his mechanics are using laptop computer programs to help identify needed repairs.

“You have to be creative in this type of market,” Mr. Brantuk said. Keeping prices low is part of his aim at both the restaurant and the marina.

The marina has 85 slips and it handles about 200 boats for winterizing.

The previous operator of the marina left, he believes, because the infrastructure was declining. Some of those who passed on the space prior to the changes are taking a second look and expressing interest.

Mr. Brantuck had grown up working the docks at the marina during his summers and thought he could combine his business experience with his willingness to get his hands dirty doing some of the work to maintain the operation himself.

“I love it,” he said. But because his wife is still a nurse at Manhattan’s Lenox Hill Hospital, the couple is splitting time between the city and eastern Long Island.

As he stands looking out at beautiful vistas overlooking West Neck Harbor, he said he has no envy of his former colleagues in the city hunched over their computers in tiny cubicles.

“I don’t think you’re going to find a more beautiful spot to sit down and have a drink,” he said, showing off the outdoor pavilion. He noted that singer-songwriter Billy Joel has used the marina’s Harbour Club catering hall as a studio and it was there that he recorded his “River of Dreams” album. The catering operation has been ongoing and will be the site of the Shelter Island School prom this spring and will later host runners participating in the Shelter Island 10K on June 16.

“We’re really making headway in a challenging market,” Mr. Brantuk said. “Our vision is to keep on growing.”

[email protected]