"There's a very real, visceral experience of actually being on a boat and being in nature," says architect Alex Pincus, who co-founded Grand Banks, a new oyster bar on a historic schooner in New York City's Hudson River. "You feel the boat move, and you have the wind, and you have a stunning waterfront view."
Any restaurant can opt for nautical décor; the appeal of floating restaurants like Grand Banks lies in the distinctive setting, fantastic views, and menus—whether Chinese or Italian—that showcase fresh seafood. Some settings are casual and perfect after a day on the beach (Kruvit on the Thai island of Phuket). Others are downright trendy; celebrities, dignitaries, and businesspeople converge at summer hot spot 360istanbul in the middle of the Bosporus.
For Grand Banks, Pincus joined forces with his brother Miles, a professional mariner; restaurateurs Mark Firth of Roman's and Marlow & Sons and Adrien Gallo of Palais Royale and Double Happiness; and architect and designer Eric Cheong, who directs the creative service studio behind Ace Hotels. "There used to be these barges that would line the shore where people could go buy oysters, so we were wondering why that no longer exists, and we thought it seemed like a charming concept to try," says Pincus.
The only problem is the weather; once it turns cold, Pincus and his crew plan to bring Grand Banks down south to a warmer climate to set up the same concept. "Maybe the Keys, maybe the Bahamas," he says. One thing is for certain: Grand Banks will be back in Manhattan for the summer of 2015.
And there is no shortage of other cool floating restaurants to sample in the meantime. Whether accessed by boat, by bridge, or simply by stepping onto a floating platform, our favorite restaurants on the water give diners an experience they can't get elsewhere.