By VIRGINIA STILL
Tucked away in Lathrop, nestled in the River Islands community, is a restaurant on the water called The Boathouse. Not only does this restaurant offer a variety of culinary delights and a full bar, but also a number of recreational and water activities. The restaurant originally opened in February 2016 and went through some changes and eventually closed. The Boathouse reopened in July 2017 under new owners, Marcus and Shelly Shahen, who also own the Ripon Roadhouse and have been in the restaurant industry for many years.
“We call The Boathouse the ‘Cheers’ of the 209 Valley,” said Marcus. “We instruct our staff that guests are not a table number, they are a family’s last name. We have the opportunity every day to create a memory in somebody’s life and a reaction in their life that we don’t take for granted.”
The couple made some renovations prior to opening with new tables, chairs and bar equipment including a state of the art draft beer system that pours draft beer at 30 degrees. They also spent approximately $100,000 on a new kitchen package to support the new menu with fresh recipes made from scratch. The City of Lathrop has not approved a fryer at the restaurant yet, but they may have one next year.
“So we really geared the restaurant around fresh,” added Marcus. “The goal of this was to take some of what made the Roadhouse famous but also pay respect to the diversity within the community.
“I mean we have a Thai Asian lettuce wrap, an Asian salad that’s amazing and we really just wanted to build this concept because of the water around and make it a little bit more healthy living.”
The inviting atmosphere and large deck at The Boathouse has been a perfect place for family gatherings, parties and weddings.
“Truly, we have an outstanding staff,” expressed Marcus. “My wife Shelly, Justin, Tracy, and Linsey really operate the core of our business.”
With a bocce ball court, horseshoes, volleyball, and an assortment of water activities like paddleboards, and foot -powered kayak rentals that will be rented out through the fall, there is something for everyone at The Boathouse. Guests can also enjoy an assortment of appetizers, salads, burgers and dinner items.
Event Coordinator Linsey Moses Smith is excited to be part of the management team and welcomes the community to experience the restaurant, which she said could be an option for a celebration. They have many future endeavors on the horizon like creating a bocce league, opening the boat shack to rent boats and other water crafts. The venue has hosted a number of celebrations for small groups and larger groups of over 100 people.
“I am very excited to be a part of their (Marcus and Shelly) team,” stated Smith. “They are such grounded business owners and such generous people, it is awesome. It has been exciting to see how far people are coming from and not just locals from Lathrop and Manteca. People come from Tracy, Ripon, Modesto and Stockton.
“I would encourage people to come out and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere that is timeless with a beautiful meal in a beautiful venue.”
Chef Justin Hacker has brought many of the top sellers he created for the Ripon Roadhouse menu to The Boathouse and has added some seafood options fitting for the location on the water. With approximately 15 years of cooking experience, Hacker’s specialty is comfort food.
“The menu here we kind of took about 60 percent from the Roadhouse,” added Hacker. “People enjoy the variety that we have. When I originally wrote the menu I thought about what people like: burgers, steaks, chicken and now since we are next to the water I added more seafood.”
One of the top sellers on the menu at The Boathouse is the nachos. The plate is filled with vegetarian refried beans, cheese, chili verde, three meats to choose from and several other toppings with chips on the side.
“The owner’s wife always said that she doesn’t like her chips soggy so it is like a giant bean dip,” explained Hacker. “They enjoy it because they are not constantly breaking chips or have soggy chips. There is a lot going on there but it is really awesome and we sell the hell out of them.”
Since the restaurant currently does not have a fryer Hacker has had to get creative with his side dishes, like the potato salad and the steamed broccolini that are guest favorites. The steamed clams and mussels made with a saffron broth and the Ahi Poke with avocado, a Sashimi grade A Ahi tuna, a soy ginger marinade with a wasabi cream sauce topped with green onions and sesame seeds are some of the options on the menu.
With his love for comfort food, Hacker will be serving up specialties this fall like a savory shepherd’s pie and a hearty Guinness stew.
The Boathouse is now offering Sunday brunch with omelets, different style eggs, breakfast potatoes and all the fixings.
Whether you are looking for a calming evening or a fun filled day on the water The Boathouse may be just the place for you. ■
For more information visit the new website at http://riverislandsboathouse.com/,
call (209) 932-9986 or stop by 980 Lakeside Drive in Lathrop.