New lease of life for renowned Kilsyth restaurant just four months after shock closure

Just four months after its shock closure, the popular Boathouse restaurant in Kilsyth has been given a new lease of life thanks to an experienced restaurateur.

Published 28th Feb 2019
Updated 18 th Sep 2023

The restaurant has reopened its doors after being taken on by Ryan Barrie and his wife, model and former Miss Scotland, Aisling Friel.

Mr Barrie, who has a string of upmarket bar and restaurant successes under his belt, said he was keen to take on the project after the popular venue closed suddenly in October last year, with the loss of 36 jobs.

The Glasgow businessman was recently brought in as consultant to the revamp of the legendary Kinema venue in Dunfermline, which once played host to the Rolling Stones, Elton John and The Supremes, but famously gave The Beatles a knockback.

Ryan is also the vision behind a number of Glasgow city venues, including the Spiritualist and Citation.

With The Boathouse, Ryan said he aims to bring a “city centre dining experience” to the community of Kilsyth.

The boutique hotel and restaurant was a popular venue for locals and visitors to the Auchinstarry marina, and the entrepreneur said that since work began on the reopening, members of the community had shown a huge deal of interest in the next chapter in The Boathouse’s life.

He said: “We regularly had people knocking on our doors asking what was happening to the place, and when we were opening. People were upset about its closure, and excited to know it was opening up again."

While the pair's previous bars have seen substantial interior refurbishment, fellow director Aisling said The Boathouse had been given a “light" refit, she added: “It’s a classy finish and of the highest standard, as you’d expect with Ryan’s bars, but it’s still recognisably The Boathouse. It’s been improved and enhanced, rather than completely refurbished.”

The interior has been complemented by an open fire and light, airy design, adding to its welcoming character, while the views of the canal which were a previous mainstay, will remain a popular draw for customers.

R Barrie said he had also brought in acclaimed chef Mark Stocks, the creator of menus at venues such as Spiritualist and Citation.

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He said: “My intention is to once again make The Boathouse renowned for its superb food, range of drinks and quality service. On our menu, we are offering Scottish culinary classics, prepared by the hugely talented chef, Mark Stocks.

"I’m confident our welcoming atmosphere, great service, wonderful food, and diverse choice of drinks will ensure The Boathouse’s long-term success. I’m excited by its reception, and I’m proud - professionally and personally - to have been involves in its revival.”

Ryan confirmed that 30 new jobs had been created, adding: “We are forecasting to grow our core team as the business develops.

“It’s always an exciting challenge opening venues like this. The team has worked immensely hard to get The Boathouse reopened so quickly and new jobs filled. The Boathouse was always a popular venue, and I hope this revamp will excite a whole new generation of customers.”

Mark Smith, head of destinations and tourism at Scottish Canals, said: “Auchinstarry is one of Forth & Clyde Canal’s key tourism destinations and The Boathouse has been a popular fixture there for a number of years. It’s fantastic to see the restaurant reopened and we wish the team all the success in the future.”

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Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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