Jay Denney and David Landis leveraged 35 years of combined experience in the cruise and hospitality industry and their savings accounts to launch Water2Wine Cruises in late October.
In just over a month, Water2Wine has built a strong following for its dinner cruises and charters aboard the Chrysalis, a 96 foot, converted yacht that travels up and down the Columbia River from its home base at Richland’s Columbia Point Marina.
Denney said the first month of business has been encouraging enough to consider future expansions. Water2Wine plans to add a second boat for more public and private events, and a third, smaller vessel capable to taking small groups on multiday cruises.
“There’s not one person we’ve talked to that has not said this is needed,” Denney said.
Denney and Landis have been friends since the mid-1980s, when both were working on cruise ships. They met in Tahiti and their professional paths crossed in the years that followed, including working on Columbia River paddlewheelers.
When Denney transferred to the Tri-Cities with Anthony’s restaurants, the two men realized they shared a dream of operating their own business. They decided to collaborate on wine-themed dinner cruises. The venture is entirely self-funded, with Denney saying there were no lenders willing to take a chance on a start-up.
It took 18 months to find the right boat for the business, a yacht in Miami. They had it shipped via container to Victoria, British Columbia. Landis and his crew brought it to the Tri-Cities, and the team had it customized to accommodate small groups and dinner seating.
Christened the Motor Yacht Chrysalis, it carries 129 passengers and employs four servers, two bartenders and three cooks in the galley.
Denney said all meals are prepared from scratch, with prep work taking place in its Tri-City kitchen and final cooking in the galley. The menu features local ingredients and is designed to complement the area wines served onboard.
“We know people are coming on because of the wine, so pairings are important,” Denney said.
For dinner tours and evening events, the Chrysalis travels to the cable bridge in part because the city lights are better there. For daytime events, it travels upriver toward the Port of Benton.
Dinner cruises cost $74, plus tax and fees. Call 509-263-1965 for information.
Lepice Spice Kitchen closed
Lepice Spice Kitchen, 127 Gage Blvd., Richland, the French restaurant concept from Jason Labarge, has closed.
The restaurant was open for more than two years but encountered financial struggles, Labarge said in a post to Go Fund Me, where he attempted to raise capital in late October.
Fox & Bear gives way to The Landing Bistro
Chefs Justin Maltos and Margaret Click will open The Landing Bistro and Lounge in the Richland spot formerly occupied by Fox & Bear at 430 George Washington Way, near Columbia Point.
The new owners have not announced an opening date, but describe the menu as “eclectic” with an emphasis on Northwest favorites.
Fox and Bear owner Dan De Groof closed the business Aug. 20 as part of a sale to an employee. The beer- and wine-based restaurant offered trivia events and live music.
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