Scott Locker had run aground. In fact, his hotel boat, the Barkissimo, did.
First, there was Mexico, where a resident set the Barkissimo on fire. Then, to Emeryville, where Locker’s lease expired. Then there was a gunshot in Jack London Square. Nope. Oakland would not allow a commercial vessel.
It took Suisun City to throw a life jacket at Locker in April. About nine months later, not only is the four-bedroom floating hotel doing well, but the addition of live music on Thursday and Sunday flips.
âThe city has been extremely welcoming and went out of their way to get us,â Locker said over the phone. âIt’s a great community. The more people I meet, the more I love them. I feel full of energy.
Obtaining a wine and beer license a few months ago obviously helped, as did the music reserved by Marilyn Carver, who keeps tabs on all the bands in the Bay Area.
There are special events, with music from the Rubicon Boys this Thursday and all attendees “wearing earrings or lipstick” enjoying 40% off drinks. It’s either a way to avoid calling it “ladies night” or an invitation for some really lively men to strut their stuff in their ruby ââreds.
âIt was a lot of fun. I’m grateful to be here, âsaid Locker, delighted that business on the 80-foot yacht is growing.
Locker has owned the boat for 21 years and never forgets the day he bought it.
âI was really excited,â he said, turning the water boat into a restaurant moored in Mexico.
âIt’s been a dream since I was a kid – to open a restaurant on a boat,â said Locker, refusing to be put off by his chef mum, who said âit’s a stupid ideaâ.
âIt motivated me to do it,â Locker said.
Mexico was âfun and satisfying,â but working 80 hours a week was not. So after the fire, Locker took the boat to Northern California and opened it as a hotel in Emeryville. New ownership at the marina, however, discouraged commercial business. Then came the marina next to Jack London Square in Oakland.
âI thought it was great. But, 10 days later, a letter came from the state saying it was not a commercial marina, only a recreational marina,â Locker said.
Seemingly left out in the dry, Locker was told by a friend that the Port of Suisun could be a friendly place. After city officials checked the boat, the navigation went smoothly.
âThey were accommodating and helpful, something I haven’t had when working with governments,â Locker said.
Of course, there were rough waters at the start. No one knew that the Barkissimo existed in Suisun.
âThe boat just sat there empty,â Locker said. âFinally, people started to come on the boat and it’s not in the red anymore, which is really nice.
There is a certain appeal to getting on a boat, whether it’s for the music, the bar open until 10 p.m. seven days a week, or the hotel rooms, Locker said.
âIt’s something romantic. People have the opportunity to do it very often, âhe said. âOnce you’re on a boat, there’s a feeling of tranquility and relaxation you won’t find in a ‘brick and mortar’ hotel. It is something different.
Dubbed The Barkissimo – “the best boat” – when Locker bought it, he only recently added the Suisun Sunset Bar to the mix.
âI wanted to link us to the local community,â Locker said, estimating that half of the customers are from the city and the rest from the outlying towns.
The location is ideal, he says.
âIt’s a beautiful riverside community,â said Locker, with three micro-breweries opening nearby in a matter of months to complement 11 local restaurants.
âIt’s perfect for tourism,â Locker said.
The Barkissimo offers music on Thursdays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.