PORT CHESTER, N.Y. -- The owner of a historic riverboat is looking to turn it into a permanent venue in Port Chester for live entertainment and food.
The Showboat Riverboat was originally commissioned in 1960 as an attraction for the short-lived theme park Freedomland in the Bronx. It is currently owned by Billy Frenz, a producer and promoter of boating and musical events, who also works as a professional musician as part of the band Billy and the Showmen. The boat has been moored in the Byram River for the last ten years and served as a venue for private parties. Frenz has been working for a number of years to establish it as a permanent spot to serve food and host live music.
"I believe in Port Chester and the waterfront development and being able to bring something special to it," Frenz said. "I've had this targeted for quite some time, and I've stuck with it."
He went through a long process to get the boat established as a venue in the Highland Marina, but was unable to because the marina did not have a certificate of occupancy. He is now looking to establish it in the town marina. He would supply bathrooms for the marina, as well as a gangway and pump-out station.
If the plan is approved, the Showboat would be permanently moored and would not go anywhere. It would be open from 11 a.m. to midnight during the week and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. on weekends. Its main attraction would be its live music, as well as a kitchen with a limited menu.
"I don't think we'd go into competition at all with any of the other restaurateurs around," Frenz said. "I look forward to being a place they come to before or after a larger meal. Whether they're going to the Capitol Theatre to see a show, come see us afterward, or come see us before you go to the Willett House for a full-dressed meal."
In addition to his life in the entertainment business, Frenz, whose father was a music teacher in Port Chester, has been in the boating business since 1975. He runs boat races and events in other communities in the area through the National Power Boat Association. He used to run an event in Port Chester, and said he would look into bringing it back to the village.