A new Barb’s Fish & Chips building has been towed to Fisherman’s Wharf from the Lower Mainland, giving the venerable eatery a fresh lease on life as it enters its 34th year.
Tucked in a spot near the main access ramp, the floating restaurant has long been a magnet for locals and visitors alike.
Owner Ian Poyntz decided there were improvements to be made and the time was ripe to make them happen.
Poyntz has been at the helm of Barb’s — the name has stayed the same despite the ownership change for the sake of tradition — for going on 14 years.
He brought experience on the ocean rather than in restaurants to the task of ownership, having had a career as a master mariner.
“I spent a lot of my time either at sea or working as a consultant in Asia,” Poyntz said.
When he decided to change directions, Barb’s was there for the buying. “I bought it because it was a challenge, really,” Poyntz said. “It’s certainly been fun to operate.”
He joked that having a restaurant that actually floats makes the mariner in him feel at home.
Replacing the structure has resulted from two years of planning. “The old building was … old,” Poyntz said with a chuckle.
The new digs are slightly bigger and should be more efficient, he said. “We hope to eliminate congestion and lineups for the most part.”
The new prefabricated steel building has travelled an interesting path, with architecture done in Victoria, the basic structure put together in Montreal and the concrete flotation devices added in Delta.
Since eating at Barb’s means eating outdoors, the restaurant is closed for about four months a year, in the fall and winter — from late October or early November until usually the first week of March, depending on the weather.
Poyntz and others spent a full day Monday working on the interior of the building. “It’s going to take us three, four weeks to finish off details inside,” he said. “We have a lot of new equipment that needs to be uncrated and installed and connected.”
Opening day will likely be in the first week of April.
Poyntz said he loves his location, and Fisherman’s Wharf is a favourite Victoria destination with its float homes, selection of food and other attractions.