Built in Singapore
The Riverboat was built in Singapore in 1991 as a replica of the Mississippi steam boats of the 1800’s, along with two other identical vessels which were shipped to Australia, leaving the Riverboat the only one of its kind in Southeast Asia. She was named ‘Sentosa Riverboat’ and operated at the North Shore Jetty of Sentosa, a leisure island off mainland Singapore. American fast food chain A&W, which owned the Riverboat, operated on the Main Deck, while a Chinese restaurant took the Upper Deck, and a beer garden the Bridge Deck.
Bought by our Company
As A&W gradually shifted its operations out of Singapore in the mid 1990’s, the Riverboat was left vacant and in disrepair at Sentosa’s North Shore Jetty. That’s when local family businessman Eric Saw decided to buy it. He approached Sentosa Development Corporation, who referred him to A&W, and A&W’s management asked “How did you know we were wanting to sell the boat!”
Santa Fe Tex-Mex Grill
Now the owner of a floating restaurant facility but with no F&B experience whatsoever, Eric, whose background is in HR and training, set up Santa Fe Tex-Mex Grill in Boat Quay under the guidance of some consultants to ‘learn the ropes’ of F&B operations in preparation for running the Riverboat. Santa Fe was among the pioneers of Tex-Mex in Singapore, a cuisine recommended by Eric’s close American friend and mentor. The Boat Quay outlet eventually closed its doors in mid 2002 when lease expired.
Repairs, Retrofit, and Search for a New Home
Back at Sentosa… A Homecoming
From Sentosa to Marina South
Plans were announced to build an integrated resort at Sentosa’s North Shore, and the Riverboat and all her neighbours had to vacate. Once again she was left homeless for a couple of months until one day, the management of Marina South Pier contacted Eric saying that they wanted a floating restaurant at their new facility. Eric and team jumped at this opportunity, and made arrangements for the Riverboat to be berthed at Marina South Pier, which became her home until today.
More Than Just A Floating Restaurant
Eric’s son Daryl, who has been working in the business since day 1 first as a part-time waiter and slowly climbing up the ladder, takes over as CEO. The Riverboat goes through another round of refurbishment and is rebranded as a floating F&B and lifestyle venue. More than just a floating restaurant, the Riverboat also now houses Wood & Steel Gastrobar, a boatyard-style chillout spot on the al-fresco deck, and hosts numerous lifestyle events all year round.
Leaving Marina South Pier: End of a Chapter
In March 2019, the Riverboat was asked to leave its home of 13 years at Marina South Pier, as the pier was getting too busy with sea traffic for one berth to be set aside for a floating restaurant. The team has since been actively searching for a new berthing site, but met with closed doors after closed doors. Alas, 2019 drew to a close, it became more apparent than ever the chances of re-opening in Singapore was very slim. As of January 2020, the Riverboat is still in a local shipyard awaiting its destiny – be it a miracle in Singapore, an opportunity overseas, or the docks (pardon the pun).
We warmly welcome ideas, referrals, or offers and proposals of any sort. Please email gs.mo1611215315c.tao1611215315brevi1611215315r@lyr1611215315ad1611215315 for a chat!