History

The Water St. Cooker & Emma's Back Porch was formally known as the Estaminet Standard Hotel. In 1919, owners Emma and George Byrens bought the house and opened a restaurant with only four tables. Emma ordered all supplies locally and insisted on the best quality; therefore, the Estaminet quickly became known for serving the finest foods and providing the most sought-after lakefront atmosphere. Emma greeted each of her guests dressed in full evening attire with her talking lime green parrot, Paul, who resided in the front lobby. Paul was responsible for closing the restaurant by calling out 'All out, gentlemen. This establishment is now closing!' The Estaminet was visited by famous patrons including Liberate, Louis Armstrong, John Diefenbaker, Barbara Ann Scott and Ontario's Premier Mitchell F. Hepburn.

In 1952, Emma retired and the house changed hands to the Cooper family who added a night spot in 1968 called The Tree Top which featured live music and a $1 buffet until it was sold in 1973.

Since 1973, the old Estimate has seen a string of owners until 1992 when it officially became home to Emma's Back Porch & The Water St. Cooker. The restaurant names where selected in honour of the building's historical value and to continue both old and new traditions. Emma's Back Porch & The Water St. Cooker houses many memories for the community of Burlington and it continues to be a staple venue for good food, good times, and great hospitality!