HARVEYS LAKE — The guy busing tables at the Boathouse Bar & Grill just might be Joe Amato, one of the owners.
Since it opened in the former Dominic’s location at the intersection of Carpenter Road and Lakeside Drive, he and his co-owners have been helping out where needed.
Whether its righting an overturned flower pot near the entrance or turning on the lights in the stairwell leading to the second-floor bar, the 69-year-old businessman and former drag racing champion has been hands-on early on.
“I’m learning something new,” Amato said during a recent busy Sunday afternoon.
The tables at the tiki bar overlooking Lakeside Drive were filled. Inside, a 50th birthday party was underway in a private dining area.Downstairs the restaurant was getting ready for its 4 p.m. opening. The Boathouse is open daily except Monday.
A few bumps have been smoothed over during the first week.“The important thing is you take care of people,” Amato said.
He has other business ventures such as the Gateway Shopping Center in Edwardsville and the City Centre in downtown Wilkes-Barre, but the Boathouse is a first for him. He and his companion, Andrea Donten, joined with restaurateurs Mike and Andy Partash to put a new face on a familiar place.
“We love Harveys Lake, all of us,” Amato said.
He and the Partash brothers own boathouses nearby, and he’s been coming to the lake for more than 20 years. He’s been at the Dominic’s and its predecessor Damien’s on the Lake.
When the property became available, they bought it last year. It’s a great location and venue, he said, adding, “It fits the lake.”
He’s relied on the Partash brothers who own Brews Brothers in Jenkins Township and several other bars and restaurants for their expertise. They’ve invested about $750,000 in equipment and improvements in the building. The ground-floor restaurant and bar seats about 100 people and offers a dinner menu including steaks, lobster and chicken. The second-floor also has a bar and indoor and outdoor seating. Combined there’s room for up to 300 people.
There’s room for a new restaurant too. Grotto Pizza and Jones’ Potato Pancakes are nearby.
“The other places around, that’s a good thing,” Amato said. “Everybody’s happy we’re here.”