Small Business Startup: Island Bay Pier House

Island Bay Pier House co-owners Brandi Wanecski and Adam Beaman stand behind the restaurant’s illuminated bar.

A Clayton restaurant that was built in 1953 has received an overhaul and facelift and now hosts locals and visitors to the Thousand Islands with a warm and comforting feel.  

     The Island Bay Pier House, known to locals as the old Pier House, opened its doors on October 17, 2018, thanks to co-owners Brandi Wanecski and Adam Beaman.  

     The pair had both been living in coastal Florida, Wanecski working at an assisted living facility and Beaman in metal fabrication, when they visited the Thousand Islands.  

     “We came up here (the Thousand Islands) for vacation and saw the Pier House was for sale. We were both looking for a change of scenery, and when we called, we made the showing and the place called to us,” said Wanecski. “We could see that it had great bones, though it wasn’t particularly nice to the eyes at that time.”  

     They say that they both “saw past” what the building had become after years of operation and knew that deep down what was underneath was a beautiful structure that they could rehab with their own flair.   

     “We basically fell in love with the building,” said Wanecski.  

     The two purchased the 5,760–square–foot property and started construction in December 2017.  

     “We went in the kitchen during the viewing and the Realtor said the kitchen was bad and it was,” said Beaman. “So, we started with the initial idea that we knew we wanted to redo the floors, we wanted to do all new equipment in the kitchen and that was the start. We wanted to keep things the way they had been done originally but go much further into it.”  

     And much farther they went. The pair tore everything down to the studs, replaced the floors, joiced everything, replaced the electrical, all the support beams, the plumbing, the gas lines, the whole roof line.   

     “It was a total overhaul,” said Beaman. “We had a lot of local guys help us from scrappers that came in for free for the scrap material, to  Dave Ivy, Erin Laflare and Mike Beach, they were the ones that did the full floor.”  

     The project developed and by April when the pair returned from being away, the structure had taken shape and it was time to start bringing in the details.   

     “Everything you see in the restaurant, other then a few odd-and-end things are locally sourced. All the wood was sourced between Redwood and Clayton. All the barn doors, even the corrugated tin on the roof,” explained Wanecski. “We tried to use everything as local as possible, even letting our food reps know that we wanted to use locally sourced food, just within the state of New York at least.”  

     And now, as the region enters the summer season, the pair is able to use the locally fresh eggs and meats and work with organic farms for their produce.    

     “Everything we have focused on in the restaurant we have tried to support as many local businesses as possible,” said Wanecski.   

     Utilizing all local flavors and ingredients the Island Bay Pier House provides customers with a warm and inviting menu, consisting of a menu that includes everything from specialty sandwiches, salads, and wings, to handmade crab cakes, perch tacos, fish fry and more. The restaurant has even expanded its menu to offer lunch and on Sunday’s a bottomless mimosa special and brunch menu that they say has been a huge hit.   

     “We do elevated comfort food with a big emphasis on fresh and local ingredients,” said Beaman. “Everything is made from as much ‘scratch’ as possible and keeping a nice comfortable, clean, upscale-ish atmosphere while welcoming everybody, from people who just got out of work to people on vacation.”  

     And they say the feedback has been great from not only the local Clayton community but also from visitors vacationing in the area.   

     “Everyone has been very accepting of our ideas and of the food and we couldn’t be happier,” said Wanecski.   

     For the future the pair hopes to expand down to their dock area, catering to the boating community and opening up an outdoor atmosphere where people can enjoy music and the river.   

~Holly Boname