NYC’s iconic Boathouse to close due to rising costs

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Central Park’s landmark lakeside wedding venue, rowboat rental launch and restaurant the Loeb Boathouse will shutter this fall. 

In a notice filed with the New York State Department of Labor this month, owner Dean J. Poll formalized his plans to permanently close the establishment “due to rising labor and costs of goods.” All 163 employees will be laid off, and the business will shutter on Oct. 16. 

“We’re actually in good faith negotiations with the Parks Department to see what we can do to get through this,” Poll told The Post in regards to securing a new proprietor for the iconic haunt, which was constructed under the auspices of Robert Moses and opened to the public in 1954.

“But,” he added of the possibility a new proprietor will not be found, “maybe not.” 

He further cited increased labor and insurance costs as the predominant economic hardship the business faced. Recently, these proved too much to overcome, despite the eatery’s consistent popularity. 

“COVID has nothing to do with anything. The volume was there,” Poll — who took over the restaurant in 2000 — told Patch. “But the expenses just eat away at it.”

A luncheon at the Boathouse in 2014.
EPA
central park boathouse closing october
A tuna appetizer once served at the Boathouse.
James Messerschmidt
central park boathouse closing october
The Boathouse previously temporarily shuttered during the pandemic.
Brian Zak/NY Post
Central Park boathouse
The institution opened in 1954.
Stephen Yang
central park boathouse closing october
Chinese billionaire Chen Guangbiao hosts a 2014 event at Central Park’s Boathouse restaurant where several hundred homeless people received lunch0.
James Messerschmidt

An additional expense came from the fact that, in 2017, Poll signed a 15-year agreement with the city requiring him to either pay 7.2% of gross receipts or an approximately $1.7 million fee, Crain’s reported

“It is our intention to engage a future operator as soon as possible,” Parks spokesperson Crystal Howard told The Post, adding that the city is doing its best to help those with existing future reservations at the space. “We are working in good faith with the current operator in an effort to accommodate those individuals who have an event already scheduled at the Boathouse.”

Despite its involvement, Parks is not involved in negotiations between the boathouse operator and its staff, who are represented by a union. 

The announcement of the permanent closure follows the Boathouse’s recent reopening after shuttering during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also closed for three months in 2018, when it underwent a $2.9 million renovation.

“It was tired after 18 years,” Poll told The Post at the time.

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