As Madison gets ready for summer to arrive, a new boat rental service and cafe are gearing up to open for Memorial Day weekend blocks from campus on Monona Bay in Brittingham Park.

Tyler Leeper, the co-owner of Brittingham Boats along with Stephan Reinke, gave community members and city leaders a preview and tour of their business, Brittingham Boats, which is slated to open in a few weeks.  

Leeper said they will rent out canoes, kayaks, paddle boats, rowboats, paddle boards and pontoons for visitors to the bay to use. Leeper said their cafe will serve gourmet grilled cheese, french pressed coffee and Babcock ice cream.

Brittingham Boats cleaned and renovated the park’s boathouse, which has gone unused for 15 years, Leeper said. Brittingham Boats will also provide early morning yoga, he said. Once Brittingham Boats opens during Memorial Day weekend, it will be open seven days a week for the rest of the summer.

They have also been working with UW’s standup paddle board club and want to start some programs with them such as paddle board races. He said he hopes many UW students come to the park during the summer.

“It used to be a big destination for all of Madison to come and use the beach here,” Leeper said. “Since then it has slowed down a bit. We think having more positive activities and more positive use of the park will continue to improve and be an asset for the community.”

The bay allows for wakes and motorboats, which many of the residents who live along the lake own, he said. Some residents have voiced concerns about safety when there are many motorboats and paddlecrafts on the bay together.

Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said safety should not be a problem if the small group of people who own motorboats slow down and share the bay with the rest of the community.

“It will provide the community with access,” Verveer said. “A lot of people who do not own personal water craft will be able to enjoy the bay.”

Verveer said Brittingham Boats’ operation has already been approved by City Council, and will come before the Madison Parks Commission on May 8.