Reopening of Central Park Boathouse? do not hold your breath

I was completely washed out – sad for the city.

Beware of false assertions from city officials, rushing to save face – I don’t expect Central Park Boathouse to come back to life anytime soon after the restaurant closed its doors in October.

“We intend to engage a future operator as soon as possible,” Parks Department officials said Friday, after current manager Dean J. Paul announced he would be closing things down.

A poll, the Long Island-born restaurateur best known for saving Gallagher’s Steakhouse from closing again in 2013, blamed high food prices for inflation, as well as harsh labor costs.

But if the past is any guide, we’ll have to wait a very long time to get a table in the most beautiful lakeside place on earth.

The tormented history of another Central Park establishment, Tavern on the Green, with Poll reneging on a deal to reopen the then-dark landmark in 2010, suggests that finding a new operator for the Boathouse may take until the return of the Central Park sheep.

A prolonged shutdown would be a tragedy for the park and for post-pandemic New York. Visiting friends from Seattle who had never seen her until recently were in awe of the beauty of the place – as I am on each visit.

Loeb Boathouse shut down in 2021.
The restaurant’s closure inside the historic Loeb Boathouse is adored by tourists and locals alike, and would be a blow to New York’s dining scene.
Brian Zack/New York Post

But Tavern became “Cavern on the Green” for five years during the Bloomberg administration. Problem No. 1 was the city’s insistence that the New York Board of Trade and Hotel’s Harsh 6 local union represent workers under a new operator to succeed former license holder Jennifer Leroy—even though the city was not obligated to require this.

Poll, who has run the Boathouse since 2000, struck a deal in 2010 to reopen the Tavern. But he left after the union halted his plan to cut staff.

Local 6 even got on with Poll for trying to cut off his influence in Tavern when he made his way to the previously non-union Boathouse a year later.

The forced marriage seemed to work, but the bitterness did not entirely diminish.

Now, as the poll plans to close Boathouse on October 17 at the expense of 163 union jobs, there is hype that it is only trying to lobby Local 6 to swallow job cuts, among other concessions. But it’s unlikely, given the guild’s style of not allowing prisoners.

A poll downplayed the idea of ​​picking a new worker soon, saying, “Probably not,” when asked about it by The Post.

The Central Park Boathouse during the lunch rush.
The renovation of 2018 has only been added to the atmosphere of the restaurant, which is now waiting for a new operator.
David McGlynn

Before anyone can turn the lights back on, the parks department must submit a bid for the complex licensing agreement; Lots of time may pass while waiting and evaluating offers. Potential operators must crunch the numbers on the condition to pay an annual fee of greater than $1.7 million or 7.2% of annual revenue, not to mention the terms of a syndicate contract.

The survey did its best – and more. Make the Boathouse for tourists only a viable destination for New Yorkers. A $2.9 million renovation in 2018 made the lakeside venue even more inviting with improved seating, décor, and a new glass wall that rolls down depending on the weather.

It also made the modern American menu better than it has ever been. This summer’s dishes—like basil-crusted salmon with Tuscan couscous ($36 for lunch, $38 for dinner), roast lamb ($42 for dinner only) and one of the best crab cakes I’ve ever had ($23 for lunch and dinner)—were not delicious. Just, but reasonably priced by today’s standards.

It would be a pity for us to lose for so long the wonderful tastes of the Boathouse in a place that so beautifully celebrates our city.

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