“After 2.5 years of COVID-19, my cancer surgery and mandatory pandemic closures, there’s no money in the bank,” says the restaurant’s chef-owner.
The last two years have been difficult for Urs Blue. This chef of Swiss origin and his wife, Tamyoperated High Boat Coffee & Catering on the North Shore for over 20 years, but had no choice but to close and sell the business.
Located in the Mosquito Creek Marina, the High Boat is a 60s-style restaurant that Bleuler has run since 1999, when the chef transitioned from fine dining (managing the kitchen to Burnaby’s chic Hart House) to this more casual setup.
The unassuming nautical-themed restaurant is known for its no-frills classic cuisine, including hearty breakfasts and affordable entrees like fish and chips.
“This place is adorable, kitsch and off the beaten path,” raves one Yelp in 2015, adding, “I love everything about it.
Earlier this year, the Bleulers learned from their owners – the Squamish Nation – would no longer be able to provide the company with an adequate power supply.
“We’ve had power problems for the past 11 years since we’ve been in this location,” Bleuler described Feb. 1 on the High Boat Facebook page.
“Power to Coffeeprovided by Squamish Nations, was never installed properly, so from time to time we had problems, especially with royal tides, lots of snow and slush and several days of heavy rain. We have indeed lost several days because of this problem”, continues the restaurant.
“In order for us to continue, the group as in Squamish Nation, our landlords, are unwilling to provide us with enough electricity.”
A few weeks of back and forth followed, all of which put the Bleulers in a difficult situation, exacerbated by the pandemic years of financial and personal struggle.
“The last two and a half years have been extremely difficult due to COVID, zero restoration, mandatory closures and numerous mandates,” explains Bleuier in an email to Glacier Media. “We were hoping for a rebound year, unfortunately that won’t happen now.”
Unfortunately, the Bleulers are now faced with selling the business and closing the restaurant business as they will no longer have a viable kitchen.
The High Boat will remain open until the end of April.
“There is no more money in the bank”
“After more conversation with [the] Squamish Nation Band, we [were] a one-month extension until the end of April,” says Bleuler. “It will give us more time to deal with the huge task of selling the building and the restaurant (basically, giving it away) and having it moved to a new location by the new owner, or possibly the demolish.”
Getting rid of the building entirely would prove costly, notes Bleuler. “After 2.5 years of COVID-19, my cancer surgery and mandatory pandemic closures, there is no money in the bank,” adds the chef-owner.
the Bleulers hope the last few weeks will mark a “semi-decent” end to the season for the veteran restaurant, and that loyal customers will have a bit more time to come in for one last meal. “
“We would like to say thank you to all of my very loyal regulars over the years, it has been a great trip!” Bleuler said.
The High Boat Cafe is located at 415 West Esplanade in North Vancouver.