Real Estate

The Central Park Boathouse is closing — will it reopen quickly?

Save the Boathouse! But how?

Operator Dean Poll is closing the Central Park restaurant on Oct. 16. The Big Apple landmark will shutter attributable to skyrocketing prices, in accordance with Poll.

However you plate it, this is unhealthy information for town. A darkened Boathouse would depart a heartbreaking gap within the park at a time when New York’s inexperienced lung wants all of the healthful, law-abiding human site visitors it can deal with.

Last rebuilt within the Nineteen Fifties, the place the 1870s Calvert Vaux unique as soon as stood, the Boathouse, magically set on the east financial institution of Central Park’s picturesque lake, is ignored by some New Yorkers who foolishly mistake it for a vacationer lure.

Friends I’ve taken there will invariably say, “I can’t believe I never came here,” particularly after their shock at how good their meals have been.  

There’s quite a bit to like in regards to the place. The view of the lake and the towers of Central Park West by means of wraparound, accordion-style home windows that open from flooring to ceiling can’t be beat. No different waterside venue within the 5 boroughs provides the romantic sight of a Venetian gondola going by.

The view of the lake and the towers of Central Park West by means of wraparound, accordion-style home windows that open from flooring to ceiling can’t be beat.
David McGlynn

The landmarked Boathouse by no means had the boldface cachet of the a lot bigger Tavern on the Green, which traditionally hosted glamorous Broadway and Hollywood events and weddings for the ultrarich, and continues to take action at present.

But the Boathouse has lengthy been an uplifting eating expertise for these within the know. The under-10-minute, scenic stroll by means of the park from the nook of Fifth Avenue and East 72nd Street results in town’s most enchanted setting to get pleasure from a powerful, trendy American menu. Choices similar to grilled salmon, crab muffins and seasonal salads are the equals of any comparably priced dishes on the Upper East Side and Upper West Side. 

Prices are honest by 2022 requirements. Potent cocktails are simply $14. It’s puzzling that Poll, who complained of escalating working prices, didn’t move the hikes on to clients. Too late now — Poll, who notably saved Gallaghers Steakhouse from closure in 2013, is packing up and leaving, representing a substantial loss to New York’s post-pandemic restaurant tradition.

Salvation, nonetheless, might be in sight — sooner moderately than later, if metropolis officers rise to the event.

A shuttered Loeb Boathouse in 2021.
Well-liked by each vacationers and locals, the closure of the restaurant contained in the Loeb Boathouse can be a blow to the New York City eating scene.
Brian Zak/NY Post
A Crabcake served at the Central Park Boathouse restaurant. April 25, 2007.
A crab cake dish served on the restaurant in 2007.
J. Scott Wynn

The Parks Department is positively taking the shutdown critically — it plans to skip its ordinary, snail’s-pace “request for proposals” process to subject a brand new license in favor of a speedier course of the place wannabe operators vie to imagine the prevailing contract.

It’s a uncommon, sensible step from town forms, presumably sparked by The Post’s latest warning that the usual RFP rigmarole may go away the property shuttered for years. 

Parks will look over purposes and gamble on who’s greatest in a position to run the place in addition to Poll has, whereas paying town $1.7 million a year for the brand new license or 7.2% of annual income, whichever is better.  

Sources stated a lot of unnamed restaurateurs have already come ahead. But there’s one other huge wrinkle: The labor settlement that Poll had in place with union Local 6 of the Hotel Trades Council.  

These empty rowboats are ready for the early Spring Trade at the new boathouse at Central Park's lake. Located at the 72nd St. Lake and East Drive, the boathouse is a gift of Adeline and Carl M. Loeb. Young early birds (center) are counting the days.
An archival picture of the boathouse with a number of empty rowboats.
Bettmann Archive
According to the Parks Department's website, the first recorded concession was sometime in the early 1860s. One of Central Park's landscape architects, Calvert Vaux, designed a boathouse that was opened in 1873.
According to the Parks Department’s website, the primary recorded boating concession was someday within the early 1860s. One of Central Park’s panorama architects, Calvert Vaux, designed a boathouse that was opened in 1873.
Getty Images

Parks Department reps advised us, “Any agreement between the union and a future operator would be based upon negotiations between the relevant parties.”

But negotiate what? The union expects Poll’s successor to swallow the contract’s current  phrases.

“We don’t expect to have any problem with that,” a Local 6 official advised us.

Translation: Don’t even take into consideration it.

Sources stated the phrases name for a 3% annual wage hike for all 163 staff. It additionally requires the operator to pay kitchen staff 5 hours of assured time beyond regulation every week from April to October, whether or not it’s wanted or not.

These aren’t new calls for that the union is making. The contract hasn’t modified for the reason that final time it was up to date in Nov. 2015. However, the built-in pay will increase, in addition to required upward changes for inflation, may scare off rescuers at a time when meals and different nonlabor prices are leaping over the moon.

People on Boats at the Boathouse celebrating the 4th of July weekend in Central Park, Manhattan, NY.
People having fun with the climate and boating in the course of the July Fourth weekend.
Brigitte Stelzer

With Poll on his approach out and the union unlikely to budge — no less than to date — the warmth’s on town to maintain the method shifting ahead.

That may imply agreeing to a less expensive value for the license, no less than till inflation decreases.

The metropolis, which has an annual price range of greater than $101 billion this year, says it desires to “identify and install a new operator as quickly as possible.”  

If Mayor Eric Adams means to maintain the Boathouse afloat, taking a couple of bucks much less isn’t going to sink the Big Apple.  

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