Downtown Bids Farewell to Iconic Restaurant

The Burlington Downtown Business Association is profoundly saddened by the announcement that Emma’s Back Porch & The Water Street Cooker are ceasing operations.

Operator Craig Kowalchuk is a longtime partner of the BDBA, an excellent corporate citizen and mentor to many in our dining and hospitality sector.

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.”

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 decision to close the restaurant 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.