A margarita at the Hatch?
The summer mainstay at the Erie Basin Marina may soon be getting a makeover, and one that could include liquor.
In an effort to keep up with public demand for food and drink on the waterfront, the city is looking to expand the restaurant and, more immediately, begin construction on a new ice cream gazebo.
The Hatch did its best business this summer, up 12 percent from last year, and the city is interested in keeping the momentum going, said Mayor Byron W. Brown.
The summer's warm temperatures and rain-free days helped bring many visitors to the city's waterfront, as did a redeveloped Canalside, less than a half-mile away from the marina.
Plans for the restaurant include expanding the kitchen, so the menu can offer more than hot dogs and hamburgers; moving the indoor seating to what is now the patio; enclosing the patio and adding a second floor to it.
The expansion will take place on the restaurant's existing footprint, and isn't expected to take any greenspace.
The Hatch already serves beer and wine, but Brown said the city is considering adding liquor.
Public demand for the Hatch's current offerings, and the city's desire to add to them, are driving the expansion.
Lines of 400 to 500 people form during lunchtime, and the seating for 70 inside fills up quickly, said Mike Wolasz,operations director for Brand-On Services Inc., which runs the Hatch and the rest of the marina for the city.
"People have nowhere to go in the bad weather," Wolasz said. "What do they do? They leave. The object is to keep them here – good weather, bad weather, they can come into the patio and sit down and eat and be warm."
The project has not been designed yet, and Wolasz doesn't know if the interior of the restaurant will change much.
Brown is requesting $1.3 million for the project in next year's capital budget. The hope is to have the work done by the end of next summer.
The ice cream gazebo, a former hot dog stand, will be demolished and rebuilt. The new gazebo is expected to be open by the spring. The money for the project, estimated to cost $406,000, has already been borrowed and construction should begin soon.
The city hopes a new gazebo will allow customers to be served more quickly, and will mitigate long lines.
The Hatch will close for the season after the first weekend in October. The marina's other operations will close for the season on Oct. 15.