Boathouse reopens after shock closure

Ryan Barrie and Aisling Friel have reopened The Boathouse. Pic: Martin Gray
Ryan Barrie and Aisling Friel have reopened The Boathouse. Pic: Martin Gray

Just over four months after its shock closure, The Boathouse restaurant at Auchinstarry has reopened its doors.

It has been taken on by Glasgow restaurateur Ryan Barrie and his wife, former Miss Scotland Aisling Friel.

Mr Barrie, who has a string of upmarket bar and restaurant successes under his belt, said he was keen to take on The Boathouse after it closed suddenly in October last year, with the loss of 36 jobs.

He was recently brought in as consultant to the revamp of the legendary Kinema venue in Dunfermline, which once played host to the Rolling Stones, Elton John and The Supremes, but famously gave The Beatles a knockback.

In addition Mr Barrie is the vision behind a number of Glasgow city venues, including the Spiritualist and Citation.

With The Boathouse, he aims to bring a “city centre dining experience” to the community of Kilsyth.

The boutique hotel and restaurant was a popular venue for locals and visitors to the Auchinstarry marina, and Mr Barrie said that since work began on the reopening, members of the community had shown a huge deal of interest in the next chapter in The Boathouse’s life.

He said: “We regularly had people knocking on our doors asking what was happening to the place, and when we were opening. People were upset about its closure, and excited to know it was opening up again.”

While Mr Barrie’s previous bars have seen substantial interior refurbishment, fellow director Ms Friel said the refit of The Boathouse had been a “light touch”.

She added: “It’s a classy finish and of the highest standard, as you’d expect with Ryan’s bars, but it’s still recognisably The Boathouse. It’s been improved and enhanced, rather than completely refurbished.”

The interior has been complemented by an open fire and light, airy design, adding to its welcoming character, while the views of the canal would remain a popular draw for customers.

Chef Mark Stocks, the creator of menus at venues like Spiritualist and Citation, has also been brought on board.

He said: “My intention is to once again make The Boathouse renowned for its superb food, range of drinks and quality service.

“On our menu, we are offering Scottish culinary classics, prepared by the hugely talented chef.”

Mr Barrie added: “I’m confident our welcoming atmosphere, great service, wonderful food, and diverse choice of drinks will ensure The Boathouse’s long-term success.

“I’m excited by its reception, and I’m proud - professionally and personally - to have been involved in its revival.

“Thirty new jobs have been created, and we are forecasting to grow our core team as the business develops.

“It’s always an exciting challenge opening venues like this. The team has worked immensely hard to get The Boathouse reopened so quickly and new jobs filled.

“The Boathouse was always a popular venue, and I hope this revamp will excite a whole new generation of customers.”

As previously reported work to repair the lift bridge at Twechar will be completed this spring to reopen the Forth and Clyde Canal.

Mark Smith, head of Destinations and Tourism at Scottish Canals, said: “Auchinstarry is one of Forth and Clyde Canal’s key tourism destinations and The Boathouse has been a popular fixture there for a number of years.

“It’s fantastic to see the restaurant reopened and we wish the team all the success in the future.”