New to Hungry Onion with plans to launch a floating restaurant

Hi All,

Delighted to join Hungry Onion and excited to gain and learn new skills.
I absolutely love cooking, baking and thrive in the kitchen. I especially enjoy trying out new recipes and learning new techniques.
I’m thinking of opening a floating dinner restaurant serving a seven-course Shabbat dinner on a boat cruising on the local canal in London.
It would be a chance to experience traditional Jewish Cuisine dishes prepared according to Jewish law and spend quality time with friends and family in a tranquil atmosphere and unique vibe.
I would love to hear your thoughts, suggestions and advice and would be most interested in knowing if this is something that you would be interested in experiencing.
For those interested in recipes just let me know and i’ll be delighted to share!

All the best,



Do you have any professional training in the kitchen or any experience in the restaurant business?

Because loving to cook & bake in your own private kitchen is not the same as preparing the same meal for strangers on a regular basis.

In any event, good luck with your plans & keep us posted. I imagine the boat creates even more things to consider, like hiring a captain, etc.

Big plans for a home cook.


Hi Dee, and welcome to the forum.

I’ve got some general comments, some specific comments about the food and some comments about a restaurant on a canal boat.

Linguafood has already covered the key elements of what I would say in the general comments. Running a restaurant is a hard enough enterprise whatever the circumstances and more so if you don’t have expertise in the industry. There’s running the kitchen to consider, and running front of house. Two different but vital skills. I’m not sure from your post about how many nights of the week you are going to be open. Would this only be on Shabbat or would you be serving a traditional Shabbat meal on several nights of the week? If the former, could a single day’s opening possibly be profitable. And, if several, would you be varying the menu, perhaps for seasonality or just because folk might become bored and not want to return? Fro what is going to be a niche restaurant, returning customers are going to be essential.

As for the specific food, I have no real idea about what traditional Jewish food might be. I have eaten once in a kosher restaurant in Manchester and enjoyed the food. Would I be right in thinking that much of your intended customer base would be drawn from the Jewish community, or would you also be marketing to those of different faiths or, like me, those of no faith ? You need to think through your marketing here very thoroughly. You will know Jewish law far better than I, but are there not constraints on people travelling on the sabbath? Will they be able to get to and from the restaurant?

A restaurant on a canal boat is going to be even trickier than a land based one. And, yes, I have once eaten in such a place - years back on the Lancaster Canal. Do you already own the boat or are you going to have to buy one. In any event, you are going to need to convert it from its existing purpose to something that is going to meet fire regulations and the demands on the local environmental health department. Then you’ve got the costs of the navigation crew - someone to steer the boat and probably someone to help with mooring and such like. And then there’s questions about where to moor it - presumably somewhere accessible for travellers - and you need a midway point where you can turn the boat around to return to base.

Just out of interest, which canal are you thinking of a a base? The Grand Union? I know that ends at Brentford,as I used to stay nearby when visiting ther National Archives at Kew. Google tells me that there are already a few water based restaurants in London. Most seem to be static but this one cruises the Regent Canal. It’s probably a good idea for you to go and have dinner there to suss out ideas

Good luck with the venture. I have my fingers crossed for you.



It sounds like an interesting idea, but if you’re catering to observant Jews, I’m not sure many would visit a restaurant on Shabbat, when financial transactions are not permitted, nor is the use of electricity. Customers would also need to be able to walk to the restaurant and wouldn’t be allowed to carry anything into it. But maybe I don’t quite understand what you’re planning.


Thanks. I was going to ask how any of this is in accordance with Shabbos and the laws-- especially since London isn’t exactly known for eruvs. (I mean, outside of North London, really.)


Right. I’m no expert, but a restaurant that’s observing Jewish law wouldn’t even be open on Shabbat. Maybe this would be more of a “theme” place, where people could have the experience without the restrictions?


If you want something that makes Jewish people vaguely uncomfortable, try Jewish theme restaurants/places. All of the exoticism, none of the troubling people. (Mottos of Prague and Krakow-- sorry, that’s rude, but the philosemitism there is a tad discomfiting).


Thank you so much for taking the time to reply.
Our vision for the venture is mainly giving the experience. We want the vibe to be unique and intimate. Dinners will be limited to roughly 15 diners pre-booked. At present I don’t have professional training but I do plan to get certified before launching however I have vast experience in cooking for small crowds.

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I honestly thought I was just making something up, 'cause (although I’ve been to Krakow and Prague), I’ve never come across such a thing.

Thank you Harters. You seem extremely knowledgeable and thank you for the well thought out reply.
Nobody says running a restaurant is easy, but when you do the thing you love, you don’t work a day in your life they say:)
We plan to run this a couple nights a week, not on Shabbat and intent to market this mostly to the general public and those who would be most interested in experiencing a unique cultural cuisine that they most likely never had before. So its not necessarily for Jewish people (who are already familiar with these foods) but all are welcome. We are working on other menus that are not Jewish Themed e.g vegan, afternoon tea & cake, party food. As well as seasonal holiday specials however I posted this question to get a feel if Shabbat Dinner would have interest for that to be the main income.
We will also have community trips to supplement.
We are still working on finding the perfect boat which will be licensed and be MCA approved. ( we have a couple of option that we are looking into )
Indeed the hardest part of a boat business is finding a commercial home mooring however were almost over this part! We have been running canal boat trips for a couple of years now using a charter boat so we have experience with the navigation crew and knowledge of the area for midway point and accessibility for travellers.
We will be based in River Lea mainly, though we intend to travel around by demand and special occasions


Yeah, Kraków in particular has a Jewish quarter (where once Jews did live) that has “Jewish restaurants” and Klezmer bands, etc. Prague’s restaurants might be actually slightly more to serve the small Jewish population (and tourists, I guess) but really it’s all about the sites of historical Jewish existence, not living Jewish existence.

(Sorry, it’s one of the topics I’m kind of obsessed with.)


Thank you for your input. You surely seem familiar with Observant Jews and the laws and customs. As mentioned, our target market for this venture is not necessarily them.

That’s where we were, at the same hotel Spielberg stayed at while filming Schindler’s List. I probably didn’t even notice the “theme” aspect, 'cause I live on Manhattan’s Lower East Side - it just looked familiar!


Ah, I see. In that case, I’d be VERY cautious about getting into kitschy “luau” or “powwow” or “Tony & Tina’s Wedding” territory.

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Thank you too for your take. As its not for the Observant Jewish people in particular it wont need to meet the shabbat laws.
Just curious, Are you inspired by the Jewish History and origins, or by the Jewish people and lifestyle more generally? On that note, would a Shabbat Dinner Experience spark your interest?

Thank you for your concern, would you be so kind to identify what makes you feel that way?
Our goal is for the diner to have the authentic experience with a 7 course premium dinner with an educational touch of the dishes origin and meaning.

Treating the customs of a religion or an ethnic group as something exotic that “regular” people can observe as if it were a museum exhibit or an immersive experience is a risky business, because it can very easily come off as exploitative, especially if you yourself are not a member of that religion or ethnic group.


That’s extremely correct and legit point. Thanks for sharing. Just to explain as far as my research is concerned there is no such experience available here or anyway in England for that matter especially not on a boat cruise and the authentic menu.
For people interested in tasting these dishes or curious about the cuisine, I think this will be a unique experience and not one they will find elsewhere.
I am Jewish.

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So simply asked, is this something that you would consider going if you saw this advertised?