BDBA regrets the closing of Emma's - lauds Kowalchuk for his leadership

News 100 blueBy Staff

May 13th, 2020



The Burlington Downtown Business Association (BDBA) released as statement this afternoon on the surprising closing of Emma’s Back Porch & The Water Street Cooker

“Profoundly saddened by the announcement” said Brian Dean, Executive Director of the Association. Craig Kowalchuk is a longtime partner of the BDBA, an excellent corporate citizen and mentor to many in our dining and hospitality sector.

Emmas - front view

What will happen to the business – could it re-open?

“Craig is a resilient restaurateur and champion of our small business sector Downtown, the closure of Emma’s Back Porch- a Burlington institution – is a deep cut”, says Mark Eade, Chair, Board of Directors for the Association.

This sentiment is echoed by Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns, “Emma’s Back Porch has always been a place for everyone; a place that feels like home and a place to come home to. Burlingtonians have celebrated countless milestones under the warm hospitality of operator Craig Kowalchuk’s enthusiastic team. Emma’s has been a steadfast canvas for community events, from road races to fundraisers and campaigns to sporting victories.

The memories made will continue to galvanize our community with a sense of belonging and shared experience, for that we are forever indebted to Craig’s leadership. Always an advocate, Craig has stood tall in creating the downtown waterfront experience we have all come to love – his passion for safety, participation in community events, supporting local, and tackling tough business issues is unrivaled. As we look out to the horizon with sadness, let’s look upon Emma’s with smiling eyes and gratitude for all that we didn’t know Emma’s meant to us. Please join me in thanking Craig for his contribution to our community, hard work, and his passion which has humbly made our city a better place to live.”

Emmas lakeside

More often than not the place was packed.

Craig operated Emma’s Back Porch & The Water Street Cooker for thirty years and maintained the building’s storied history. Some will recall it as the home of the esteemed Estaminet Restaurant and Sharky’s On The Water. Others have fond memories of family outings to the lakefront, grabbing a bite at Emma’s Freeze & Fries.

Craig quickly emerged as a leader in Burlington’s hospitality industry, forming the Burlington Restaurant Association, championing countless local sports teams and charitable causes and providing a training ground for a generation of young restaurateurs.

Right up until the  Craig was leading the charge to advocate for measures that would help the restaurant sector recover quickly. We are thankful for all that he has given to our community over the years, he has left an indelible mark on our Downtown.

The Gazette has a question: “Who made the decision to close the restaurant?

Craig Kowalchuk or his landlord?

There is much more to this story.

Stay tuned.

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2 comments to BDBA regrets the closing of Emma’s – lauds Kowalchuk for his leadership

  • dave turner

    I would think it most likely Kowalchuk made the decision. Was it a willing decision or was he pushed. If he had a valid lease with a good term left on it; and assuming he was up to date with rent, the landlord had no say. If not current on rent; well that’s a different matter. Probably low revenue due to the lockdown played a huge part. Maybe having done it for 30 years, he had just had enough of it.

  • Steve Holman

    Who is surprised in this environment? If the space is vacant there will be another restaurant in there as soon as things stabilized.