Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Boat anchors on Weymouth beach

As part of my BT Storyteller role, I’m following a number of Weymouth and Portland businesses through their London 2012 experience. They’ve agreed to share the expectations, achievements and frustrations that come with running a business in a major Olympic venue.

Daren Deadman's family has been serving food and drink from huts on Weymouth beach for generations.

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But this summer saw the realisation of a twenty-year old dream, to open a cafe and wine bar which brings continental sophistication to Dorset's silken sands.

The Boat, Daren's new establishment, sees the traditional rectangular hut replaced with the curves of an inverted ship's hull. It's as if a large sailing ship had beached, been abandoned, and a section of the hull turned over, converting the keel into the ridgeline of the roof.

That's exactly the effect that Daren, who runs The Boat with his wife Claire, sought to achieve. Daren conceived the design several years ago and in conjunction with an architect and boat builders, created the distinctive reality.

A new style of beachfront cafe

The Boat, which opened in July, stands on a decking platform which reaches out across the sand towards the sea. From here, diners and drinkers can feast on miles of views of the Jurassic coastline, while keeping a watchful eye on their children, playing on the beach.

While Daren and Claire have always run a beach catering business, The Boat is a big step up. Staff numbers have more than doubled, with around 14 full and part-timers. The old menu of takeaway food has been superseded by a broader selection of meals that can be eaten at the gleaming new tables.

It's also a licensed bar, selling wine and beer until 10pm. Long evenings see customers drinking in the scenery and emptying a few bottles, as the tide ebbs and flows.

Attention to detail is a hallmark

Good quality service is important to Daren and Claire. "We treat everyone the same," says Daren. "It doesn't matter if they're a day tripper or a resident." It’s apparent that cleanliness is important. Customer service extends to ensuring that every customer's dog is provided with its own drinking bowl.

Not surprisingly, this eye-catching venue has rapidly become popular with Olympic visitors. LOCOG representatives and members of visiting sailing teams have already eaten there. Local councillors like to use it as a showcase venue when entertaining.

Daren has lots of plans for The Boat. A winter menu, themed evenings, and an even higher quality of catering are just a few. Having been open only a few weeks, he's still getting used to how it works, and how popular it's already become. It will be interesting to come back in a few months and see how it's navigating the cooler days of autumn.

You can 'Like' The Boat on Facebook.

(Top photo: Claire and Daren Deadman)


  1. We wish Darren and Claire every success. It's just what has needed on Weymouth beach bringing sophistication and a Continental feel.

  2. I love the design of their cafe. I wish Darren and Claire the best of luck to their cafe. Their design would definitely bring in customers.

  3. I love the great design and the beauty and location of the place. I think the restaurant itself is a tourist destination.

  4. This is so eye catching and beautiful. I bet they get a lot of customers because of the great design of the place.

  5. It's great have been down for a weeks holiday and sat on deck a few times eating ice cream eating and sipping wine .It's fabulous. a credit to The owners and Weymouth

  6. This is an implausibly incredible design for a cafe. I love the structure and the engineering of this infrastructure. This makes it a very compelling cafe for many customers.

  7. I love the unique design of this cafe. It attracts a lot of people because of it's cool features. This cafe looks like a tourist spot as well.

  8. This is a cute concept of a store. You seem to have a very successful business. You really chose a great place to start the business.
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