NEW YORK – Greek-American restaurateur Dean Poll’s restaurant at the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park, well-known in the community for the many events held there, including luncheons and AHEPA dinners, as well as weddings, has closed “for the foreseeable future, according to union officials representing workers and a state notice of layoffs there,” The City reported.
Poll had “furloughed workers there in March at the start of the pandemic, the Department of Labor notice said,” The City reported, adding that “those layoffs ‘will now be considered permanent,’ according to the September 8 filing.”
The venue’s 163 workers are affected by the closure, The City reported, adding that “the reason given for the layoffs: ‘Unforeseeable business circumstances prompted by COVID-19,’ the labor notice read.”
Parks Department spokesperson Megan Moriarty said that “the restaurant at the Boathouse has been closed since mid-March, but is allowed to reopen ‘to the extent it can operate in accordance with the applicable state COVID-related guidelines,’” The City reported.
On October 2, a worker leaving the shuttered eatery told The City that “Poll hopes to reopen the restaurant in April.”
“A separate source with the workers’ union, the Hotel Trade Council Local 6, confirmed Poll had mentioned that idea recently,” The City reported, noting that “no reopening plan has emerged,” as of press time.
Poll and his restaurant group which also includes the well-known Gallagher’s Steakhouse in Midtown Manhattan had not yet responded to requests for comment.
“Nearly 100 staffers were laid off from Gallagher’s, according to a separate Department of Labor notice posted in early September,” The City reported, adding that “however, the steakhouse reopened for indoor dining Sept. 30, staff there said.”
“The worker at the Boathouse, who declined to give his name, said the expansive restaurant usually welcomes in throngs of park-goers and tourists — and needs ‘thousands’ of guests to run,” The City reported, noting that “without the usual crowds in Central Park, the Boathouse can’t make a go of it.”
“It’s a big place,” he told The City.
The Loeb Boathouse “had been operating under a 15-year concession license agreement with the Department of Parks and Recreation that began in January of 2017,” The City reported, adding that “in 2018, Poll invested in a $2.9 million renovation of the restaurant, reopening in late summer of that year.”
A total of $23.9 million is “to be paid to the city for the right to operate the Boathouse,” The City reported, adding that “the Parks Department hasn’t been looking for payment for months, Moriarty said.”
“The restaurant has been closed since March, and we haven’t been charging the monthly license fees since then,” she told The City.
“The Boathouse concession agreement also included responsibility for running Central Park’s famous row boats,” The City reported, noting that “the boats have been docked since the COVID-19 crisis began.”
Besides the many events hosted at the Loeb Boathouse, it has also been used as a location in feature films including The Manchurian Candidate, When Harry Met Sally, and 27 Dresses, The City reported.
The restaurant industry has been struggling and the Eater New York website “has kept a running tally of all city restaurants and bars that have shuttered since the pandemic began, The City reported, noting that “as of September, Eater had documented nearly 150 closures.”