Joan Wilder: Journalist, Writer, Editor

New incarnation of Marina Bay Club a luxury playground in Quincy

May 23, 2010

Private beach cabanas with plush couches and plasma TVs at an outdoor waterfront nightclub sounds like Miami or Los Angeles, not Quincy. But Quincy, here it comes.

Longtime friends and North End restaurateurs Frank DePasquale and Nick Varano are putting their all — and more than $500,000 — into redeveloping the former Marina Bay Beach Club, which was previously the popular WaterWorks nightclub. Their new, high-concept luxury playground — called the Ocean Club at Marina Bay — is scheduled to open on Memorial Day.

Touted as the largest outdoor venue of its kind in the region, the club will be 62,000 square feet on the waterfront facing the Boston skyline at the end of the Marina Bay boardwalk.

The brick-and-mortar structures of the renovation are in place now, but the finishing touches are arriving daily. The club, which has an occupancy permit for 1,600, will have a gourmet food court, an enormous marble bar, and a tented dance floor for 450 edged with sectional couches.

Every inch of the place will be outfitted to invite lounging, eating, and drinking, the owners said. There will be queen-sized platform beds covered with pillows; lounge chairs; private cabanas; fountains with colored lights; a two-story corner structure covered with images on mesh fabric that will house a stage and VIP rooms; an intimate corner bar facing the skyline; a volleyball court; and more, they said.

The partners, who have, between them, opened more than 30 restaurants in Boston and elsewhere along the East Coast, took on the project just a few weeks ago.

“I said, ‘Nick, you ready to gamble?’ ’’ said DePasquale recently, standing in sand brought to the site from Aruba, while workers buzzed around him. “We enjoy a challenge, we love a challenge.’’

The partners’ attraction to the Marina Bay project followed the success of DePasquale’s water-themed nightclub, Splash Ultra Bar, which he opened on Kneeland Street in Boston last September. Knowing that the most recent incarnation of the club at Marina Bay had floundered in recent years, the pair visited several upscale outdoor venues in Miami, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles, for inspiration.

DePasquale and Varano assumed ownership of the business in partnership with property owner Flagship Marinas, which had all permits in place. Still, the property comes with some historic problems.

More than 2,000 people live in the various condominium developments at Marina Bay, and tension over noise levels coming from the boardwalk businesses has been ongoing for years.

Last June, the Quincy City Council voted to impose a noise-limiting ordinance, but the mayor never signed it. A new, more restrictive noise ordinance is expected to go before the council for approval within the next month. If approved, the new ordinance will also require the mayor’s signature. According to City Councilor Brian McNamee, the ordinance would give councilors the mechanism they need to impose and enforce maximum sound levels on businesses.

Both McNamee and Maureen Glynn, chairwoman of the Marina Point condos’ board of trustees, have met with Ocean Club general manager Tim Collins, and are satisfied that he’s being proactive about a potential noise problem.

Collins “has removed the cabinet speakers and acquired an electronic device that prohibits DJs from going above a certain sound level,’’ said McNamee. The Ocean Club has also arranged to have all cars exit the property via Haul Road, bypassing most residences, and will join with other area business to pay for a nightly police detail, said Glynn.

With so much left to do, DePasquale and Varano seem to be making a decision a minute — with help.

Two of Boston’s biggest entertainment promoters — 6One7 Productions and Michael Winter’s East Coast Clubs — will produce the entertainment for the Friday-through-Sunday club.

“Each night we’ll have a different theme to attract a different age group with top-name DJs and bands, local and national,’’ said DePasquale.

Cover charges and cabana rentals will vary, depending on the entertainment. Covers will range up to $20 and cabana rentals will be $300 to $1,000, per day.

Although the new club’s main target demographic is the 25-plus professional crowd, a blues night, for example, could be a good time for an older crowd. The partners said they are well aware that there are 740 slips in the marina and a large population within walking distance — a population they want to attract.

“In the North End, we’ve made the community our friends,’’ said DePasquale, who opened his first, still-popular North End restaurant, Il Panino, in 1987. “We hope to do that here, too.’’

Chefs from the partners’ various restaurants are working out a menu now.

“It’ll be our take on Kelly’s at Revere Beach,’’ said Varano, whose most well-known Boston restaurants are Strega and Nico.

The Ocean Club is hiring about 150 people, most of whom will be seasonal employees. Unlike previous incarnations of the club, though, the Ocean Club plans to open for some major off-season events, too.

Inspired by such frosty venues as the Minus5 Ice Lounge at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, DePasquale and Varano said they have visions of holiday extravaganzas — like a winter vodka bar where the vodka is served in glasses made of ice and prettily bundled people gaze at ice sculptures and sit on ice furniture.

Joan Wilder can be reached at

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