McHenry on track to extend partnership with All Marine’s Retro Boats, considers adding liquor license

Vintage-looking boats, other small watercraft will be rented from riverside site for another year

A new place to stop and get a drink along the Fox River may be coming to McHenry at the site of a recreational watercraft rental business.

All Marine’s Retro Boats is on track to keep providing rentals of vintage-looking boats along the Fox in McHenry an additional year after the McHenry City Council last week signaled it was open to extending its three-year agreement, which would take it through 2023.

The outfit – operated by Cary-based All Marine Services’ owner Dillon Streit and his wife, Michelle – is also considering applying for a liquor license to allow for alcohol purchases and consumption on site and pre-packaged booze sales to boat renters.

Patrons would not be permitted to consume openly along the riverwalk or in the park, and only at the perimeter of the rental business.

Last year, All Marine’s Retro Boats began offering small retro boats, a wheelchair-accessible pontoon, paddle boats, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards for rent from a small concession building and rental office near a sandy shoreline along Boone Creek at Miller Point.

But the business, like many others, was hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic and was open for just five weeks of the boating season.

In that time, however, the Streits said they feel the location and watercraft rental idea in the no-wake zone showed promising commercial potential, and city leaders agreed to grant another year for the area to be used in that manner. The couple wanted to secure another year of doing business at the site from the city since much of last season was lost to the outbreak and associated restrictions on gatherings.

“We have barely scratched the surface of what is possible with the partnership and what it means to both residents and visitors of and to our community. All Marine Retro’s offerings truly accomplish the goals of providing access to the Fox River for our community,” city staff said in a memo to elected officials.

The Streits also are considering adding another shipping container-style structure to the site to serve as a bar with a rooftop seating area, images submitted to the city show.

“I live close to the area of the no-wake, so I can see a lot of the retro boats,” 2nd Ward Alderman Jeff Schaefer said. “And I can tell you you’re exactly right, the people are having a riot when you’re out on them. Although you get a lot of looks from other boaters, I think it’s all positive. Hopefully that can continue.”

The Streits also own and operate another fleet of boats for rent through a business known as Barrington Boat Club, which allows members to launch in Port Barrington on the Lower Fox River, Wauconda on Bangs Lake and in McHenry on the Fox, according to its website.

The couple has not yet determined how late the bar and rooftop expansion would stay open if they are given city approval to sell alcohol, but they said they do not expect to turn it into a late-night destination.

“This is not meant to be a super late hangout (where) everyone’s at the bar until midnight type of deal,” Michelle Streit said. “That’s not what we’re looking for. It’s more to really supplement the people who are walking around on the riverwalk, who are coming to sit and enjoy the water, after they come back from a rental.”

The couple is also looking to add mores signs advertising the watercraft available for rent along the riverside area, which city officials also said they were open to accommodating.

City staff is set to bring back a formal proposal to the council regarding the partnership and potential expansion of the business.

Sam Lounsberry

Sam Lounsberry covers local government, business, K-12 education and all other aspects of life in McHenry County, in particular in the communities of Woodstock, McHenry, Richmond, Spring Grove, Wonder Lake and Johnsburg.