After two years of flooding and high fuel costs, lake businesses are hoping the start of boating season turns the economic tide.
Economically, the water is just fine at Lewisville Lake so far in 2010.
“We have new boaters out here this year, (and) fuel prices are coming down a little bit,” said boater Bridgett Porter, who has been docking her boat at Pier 121 for five years.
In 2008, flood waters kept lake traffic down, and high fuel costs and the economy hurt the lake last year.
Dozens of people lost their boats during tough economic conditions in recent years. Vacant boat slips could be seen all over the lake last year, but not this year.
Ken Bentley has a ‘For Sale’ sign on the boat, but he's not sold on the idea of getting rid of it because things are improving for his personal finances and the lakes.
"It's picking up a little bit now, so we'll see what we shall see,” he said.
Other people see smooth sailing ahead.
Restaurateur Dee Lincoln, who made Del Frisco’s an iconic name for high-end dining, has sunk more than $1 million renovating a restaurant she’s opening on Lewisville Lake called Dinghy Bar and Grill.
“I've watched all my buddies do grills around Dallas, Texas, so I got a grill on water, “she said.
The investment is a gamble on her part. The lake lifestyle is the ultimate example of discretionary spending -- people either have it or they don’t.
Lincoln said her newest venture, with plenty of Cajun-themed dishes that should draw boaters and nonboaters alike to the lake, is designed to appeal to folks of all incomes.
“You're not going to be all things to all people, but if everybody will trust us, there will be something for all people,” she said.
Boat rentals are the biggest sign that business on the lake is no longer sink-or-swim. Several new rentals have opened since last year, and mainstays, such as Mike McMahon’s Chamonix II catamaran, are seeing a rise in corporate bookings after a year when corporations dramatically cut back on spending.
"Starting off this year, it looks like it's going to be 50 percent better than last year,” McMahon said.