Clinton Lake Marina to add waterfront bar to its offerings; company also expanding its growing boat club business to Perry Lake

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

Clinton Lake Marina is pictured on May 10, 2023.

For years, there have been people talking about how nice it would be to have a Lawrence business offering food and drink with true waterside seating.

Despite the interest, and even some publicly discussed plans, such an establishment has never developed along the portions of the Kansas River along downtown’s edge.

Maybe the problem has been we’ve been looking at the wrong body of water.

The owners of the Clinton Lake Marina are about to find out. They are in the process of adding The Knot Bar, an approximately 150-person outdoor patio for people looking for a place to enjoy food and drink along the water’s edge.

And that is just one of the big projects underway at the marina complex, which is just outside the western edge of Lawrence’s city limits in the Clinton State Park.

Also on tap is a major expansion of the business’s No Coast Boat Club, which we first reported on last year. That business is doubling its number of boats available to members and is allowing members to boat at either Clinton or Perry lakes.

With all the signs of lake season approaching (I’m marinating in sunscreen as I write this), let’s take a look at the new developments at the lake.

First, there’s news related to the boat club. That project has the makings of a new Lawrence-based enterprise that could become regional in nature. As we reported last year, the relatively new owners of the Clinton Lake Marina — husband and wife duo Peter and Erin Meiusi — along with longtime marina employee Travis Andregg, founded the No Coast Boat Club.

The idea of boat clubs is taking off nationally, but the Lawrence operation became the first in the Kansas City area. The clubs are becoming big business because they are a way for people to regularly use a boat without owning one or being responsible for its upkeep and storage. Members pay a one-time initiation fee and then a monthly fee thereafter to have access to a variety of club-owned boats at the marina.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

Travis Andregg, Peter Meiusi, and Erin Meiusi, founders of the No Coast Boat Club, show off a new double-deck pontoon boat that the club has recently purchased.

The business was a success in year No. 1, Peter said. The club filled 20 of its 21 membership slots. Every member renewed for this season, Peter said.

“It was good validation for us,” he said.

Validation that made taking the next plunge easier. The trio bought three more boats to double the size of its fleet, and has struck a deal to locate vessels at Lake Perry Yacht & Marina. The new location means an individual’s membership now allows for boating at both Clinton and Perry throughout the season.

The club also added a new membership tier designed to attract retirees, faculty members or others who might have available leisure time to boat during the weekday hours. That new tier allows members to reserve boats Monday through Friday, but not on weekends or holidays.

As for prices, the weekday tier has a $3,500 one-time initiation fee and then $299 a month for club dues. The seven-day-per-week membership requires a $5,000 initiation fee and $399 per month in dues.

Thus far, Peter said the pricing strategy is working well in the market.

“We even had a slip holder sell his boat and join the club,” Peter said.

The monthly dues eliminate the need for boaters to pay for insurance, slip rentals, maintenance and other such costs. The tradeoff is they share use of the boats with other club members, which requires the use of a reservation system that allows members to book boat usage in four-hour increments.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

Peter Meiusi and Travis Andregg are pictured aboard a new pontoon boat their No Coast Boat Club has purchased. The new boat features a slide, complete with running water.

Another factor working in the club’s favor is that finding a slip for your own boat can be difficult currently. Clinton has about 600 covered boat slips, and all of them are full, with a waiting list.

That’s a sign of how hot the boating market has become. Boating was one of those outdoor activities that became very popular during the pandemic. Now, big money investors seem to have taken notice.

Peter said marina purchases by larger companies are becoming a trend, in part due to some favorable tax laws that now allow marinas to be part of real estate investment trusts.

“We are seeing consolidation in the marina industry with private equity and hedge funds, but we are excited to be a family-owned operation,” he said.

I reported on one such deal earlier this month when a Texas firm purchased the Rock Creek Marina at Perry Lake. Peter said other deals also are happening in the area, but not at Clinton.

But he and his partners are excited about expansion possibilities of their own. He said the boat club is in active discussions to add a third location at a lake in the Kansas City area. More on that when the deal is finalized.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

Construction crews work on a new waterside bar and patio area at Clinton Lake Marina on May 10, 2023. The area features a stage for live music, to the right, and a walk up bar, to the left. A University of Kansas architecture class helped design the area, which is scheduled to open by Memorial Day.

But enough about the boat club, for now. Maybe your idea of a great day on the lake involves a cool beverage and a table with a view. That’s the idea behind The Knot Bar project.

The bar area is right off the back dock of the marina store. That area previously is where the fuel dock for the marina was located. However, the marina has moved that fueling area to make way for the outdoor bar area.

The area is under construction currently. When completed later this month, it will have a variety of seating areas with a live music stage on one end of the dock area and a small bar area on the other end of the dock.

Plans call for live music on alternating Saturdays and Sundays (Saturdays on one week and Sundays on the next) throughout the summer.

In addition to the new outdoor seating area, the marina also has added about 30 courtesy boat slips that are connected to The Knot Bar area. Those slips will be available to boaters to rent for an overnight stay, and they’ll serve as parking spots for boaters coming off the lake who want to visit The Knot Bar.

But the bar won’t be just for boaters. The marina is hoping it will be the type of thing that causes more people from Lawrence to make their way out to the lake, even if they don’t have a boat to take on the water. Historically, getting nonboaters out to the marina has been a tough chore.

“There has been this misconception that this a private facility,” Andregg, the marina’s project manager, said. “But that’s not the case. We really want people to understand it is here for the public.”

The marina, though, is inside the state park. That means a vehicle permit is required for entry into the park. Peter said he’s hopeful that won’t serve as too big of a deterrent for Lawrence residents who are looking for a nice time at a waterfront bar. The $5 entrance fee is for an entire vehicle, which is cheaper than most cover charges at various establishments.

The Knot Bar will offer food as well. The marina store long has had pizza and deli items, and Erin said the menu is set to expand this season. She said barbecue, wings and charcuterie items are likely additions to the menu.

Look for The Knot Bar to open around Memorial Day weekend.


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