Bainbridge Marina sees houseboats make homePublished 9:57pm Tuesday, May 27, 2014
The Bainbridge Marina is now home to seven vacationers — literally.
Last week, seven houseboats with owners from Thomasville and Tallahassee parked their houseboats at the marina with intentions to live in them when they’re on vacation. The floating homesteads will have water and cable provided by the marina and a payment plan for power.
The new houseboats are just a piece of the exciting plan marina manager Mike King has cooking for this summer. Currently, King and the City of Bainbridge are installing a full-service restaurant in the marina’s store.
“We’re putting in the kitchen right now,” King said. “Out back we already have all of that screened in so you can eat and drink outside.”
The screened-in back porch is filled with tables and fans. After a busy day on the Flint River, customers can walk up to the store and order hotdogs, hamburgers, chicken wings and fish.
King estimates the restaurant to be open by mid to late July once the kitchen equipment is installed. He expects to employ around 25 people.
Since the marina was leased to King in September, Bainbridge has seen a turnaround in profits, making money for the first time in years.
“Last year the Marina lost $90,000 and this year we have been collecting an average of $400 a month in rent,” Bainbridge City Manager Chris Hobby said. “That isn’t much, but it’s a turnaround of $94,800 on an annual basis. The lease is structured so we collect very little rent in order to allow the tenant or operator to become established.”
According to Hobby, the new restaurant was a key selling point in attracting the houseboats.
King’s reason for the success he’s helped bring to the marina is a straightforward philosophy.
“We just try to cater to (customers),” he said. “We’re just trying to make them happy.”
The marina is open seven days a week, with King often working 12 hours a day. He is selling brand new Bentley pontoon boats with others for rent. He has expanded the parking lot for an overflow of customers, where before finding a parking spot was sometimes impossible.
The store is steadily adding more and more inventory and the lot’s nine campgrounds are becoming popular.
Nobody leaves the marina without meeting its mascot and King’s dog, Scooter.
“We’re going to be here for a long time, so we just want everyone to come down here and enjoy it,” King said.