Bluewater Boathouse Seafood Grill Takes Over 1887 on the Bay - Set to Open this Month

Attention Coronado Foodies...a new seafood restaurant, in a historic location, will be opening this month.  Bluewater Boathouse will open June 16th in the former location of 1887 on the Bay.  It will be located at 1701 Strand Way.  Much of the staff will remain, but there is a new owner - details below. 

Bluewater Grill Seafood Restaurants of Newport Beach, Calif., will convert the historic former Hotel del Coronado boathouse on Coronado Island, currently the 1887 on the Bay restaurant, into a contemporary showplace for hyper-local sustainable seafood and shellfish.

Bluewater Boathouse Seafood Grill opens in June 2014 as the sixth Bluewater restaurant and first in San Diego County, joining Bluewater Grill locations in Newport Beach, Redondo Beach, Tustin, Avalon, Calif., and Phoenix.

Designed to be a flagship for the company, the Coronado restaurant will be patterned after an over-the-water Bluewater Avalon that debuted last year on the Avalon waterfront on Santa Catalina Island.

The sale will close May 31, with the debut of the Bluewater Boathouse Seafood Grill slated for mid-June. An extensive remodel of the bar is scheduled for the off-season after the summer.

Founded in 1996 with the opening of the first restaurant in Newport Beach’s Cannery Village, Bluewater offers a locally inspired combination of regularly changing menus, tasting and pairing events and happy hours unique to each neighborhood. Bluewater operates their own swordfish boat, “Pilikia”, based in San Diego, which allows them to specialize in locally harpooned swordfish in season.

According to Bluewater co-owner and co-founder Jimmy Ulcickas, he and his partner Rick Staunton have long had their eye on a waterfront location in San Diego. He says the realization of obtaining the historic Coronado Boathouse Restaurant (1887 on the Bay), in the cupola-adorned building that has been part of the Hotel Del Coronado since 1887, is a dream come true. Previously, it was the home of the Coronado Yacht Club and The Chart House for more than 30 years.

The prospect of taking over this high-profile, historic space and rebranding it as Bluewater Boathouse, is a unique opportunity,” said Ulcickas. “Bluewater Boathouse Seafood Grill will combine the traditions of the Hotel Del Coronado boathouse with an updated contemporary interior and the freshest sustainable seafood and shellfish in San Diego.”
Steve Ewing has been retained as general manager of the Bluewater Boathouse Seafood Grill, and comes to Bluewater from Peohe’s Coronado, where he was GM for four years. Prior to that, he was GM of Kings Fish House Mission Valley for eight years and worked for a decade at The Fish Market.

Bluewater also hired Erin Briggs, marketing manager for 1887 on the Bay, to serve in a similar capacity at the new restaurant, as well as other employees who made The Boathouse a local favorite. The restaurant is currently interviewing local management, servers, bartenders and kitchen personnel. Potential applicants can go to www.Bluewatergrill.com/jobs to fill out an application.

“It’s a thrill to bring Bluewater’s commitment to the absolutely freshest sustainable seafood – ranging from small plates and simply prepared fish dishes to the most elaborate chef creations – to San Diego for the first time,” said Ulcickas. “Given Coronado’s seafood heritage, we expect Bluewater to be a nice fit with locals and visitors alike. We’re excited to be able to add spectacularly prepared sustainable seafood and shellfish to the mix of options.”
Staunton said that 1887 on the Bay will close June 1 for a short period for a cosmetic remodel and a small kitchen equipment changeover, and will undergo a more extensive remodel of the bar later this year. Consistent with other Bluewater locations in California and Arizona, Bluewater will feature a contemporary fish house theme featuring authentic artifacts collected from Bluewater founders’ years of fishing experience off the coast of Southern California.
The new restaurant will also follow the Bluewater formula of printing new lunch and dinner menus regularly to be able showcase the freshest seafood and shellfish, and offering a separate kid’s menu certified by the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell program and a popular weekday small plates menu of $4, $5 and $6 drink and appetizer specials.

“While we serve up to 40 varieties of seafood and shellfish, if it isn’t the freshest possible, we won’t put it on the menu,” said Staunton. “That has been our philosophy since Day 1, and we’ll continue that commitment to the freshest fish, ingredients and cooking techniques in Coronado.”

Another expected highlight will be a year-long calendar of seasonal seafood specials and monthly tasting events which pair seafood and shellfish with hand-selected wines, sakes or specialty draught beers. Hosted the second Tuesday of every month, the events have become a popular monthly diversion for local seafood aficionados and Bluewater Grill’s large fan base.

Industry-leading Commitment to Sustainability

Since opening on Newport’s Cannery Village waterfront in 1996, Bluewater Grill has developed a reputation for not only serving the absolutely freshest seafood but leading the industry in sustainable fishing and farming practices.
According the Ulcickas, Bluewater Grill was one of the first California or Arizona seafood restaurants to apply a full-disclosure menu philosophy and publish a Fish Origins Chart showing the specific farmed or wild source of every item on the menu. The prolific restaurateur has shared his marine stewardship secrets at the International Boston Seafood Show and has been featured on the cover of SeaFood Business, the nation’s leading trade publication for seafood restaurants and other buyers.

To date, more than 90 percent of the seafood offerings at Bluewater Grill and Bluewater Avalon are sustainably caught or farmed – among the highest of any seafood restaurant in California. To be deemed sustainable, the seafood or shellfish must be certified by the Aquarium of the Pacific Seafood for the Future program; be designated a “Best Or Good Alternative Choice” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program; or adhere to strict Marine Stewardship Council best-practice standards for sustainable harvesting.

Bluewater founders also operate the fishing vessel, Pilikia, which provides Bluewater customers with the freshest, most sustainably caught seafood possible. Fishing off the coast of Avalon, Captain Sean Burke targets only mature fish without the use of nets or long lines, harpooning the freshest most humanely harvested local swordfish.

Bluewater Boathouse Seafood Grill
1701 Strand Way
Coronado, CA 92118

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Learn more about the history of this prime Coronado location (taken from the 1887 on the Bay website):

Completed in 1887, this former boathouse predates the historic Hotel Del Coronado by one year. Our restaurant was designed and constructed just before the hotel to provide an exercise in building practices for its unskilled laborers.

It initially served as the boathouse for the hotel, housing small daysailers, paddle boats and fishing boats. In 1903, Scripps Institute of Oceanography was granted permission to use the second level for their research. All of what Scripps Institution has done for San Diego, and the world, grew from the small beginnings in this building. They continued their research here until 1905 when the Institute relocated to the bluffs overlooking La Jolla Shores. It was at this time that the caretaker took over the second level of the boathouse to house his family while continuing to use the first level for repairs and rentals.


Intimately tied to the hotel, the boathouse was an important part of the Del’s early years, offering activities to hotel and Tent City guests alike. Tourists would gather to picnic, swim, or partake in water activities such as yachting, motor boating, sailing, canoeing, aquaplaning and fishing. In 1912, the Coronado Yacht Club had established its first headquarters in the boathouse, followed by the San Diego Yacht Club in the 1920′s.

The boathouse continued to serve the hotel and Coronado community until 1968 when the building was leased by the Chart House Restaurant Group, with the intention of developing it into a waterfront dining destination. Upon signing the lease, the building was condemned due to weak foundation pilings which couldn’t provide enough support for the traffic that a restaurant would bring. In an extraordinary attempt to save their investment, a platform was erected 50 feet closer to the shore and the entire building was relocated and renovated.

After 31 years of serving the San Diego community, the Chart House left Coronado and the owners again undertook a complete remodel inside and out. Today, 1887 on the Bay offers a stunning trip back in time and a world class menu. Over the years, celebrities of past and present have been attracted to our restaurant. You may be sitting in a chair that formally occupied such stars as Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Charlton Heston, Mike Douglas, Stevie Wonder, Jerry Lewis, Jim Morrison, Pearle Bailey and Andy Roddick, to name a few. We hope you relax and enjoy yourselves just as they have. Thank you for being a part of our little piece of history.

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Tags: business, entertainment

Comment by lisa on June 2, 2014 at 5:50pm

Can't wait to try it out!

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