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General News

Loeb Boathouse in Central Park to Close October 16

NEW YORK – The Loeb Boathouse in Central Park, “an iconic restaurant and venue that has appeared in a number of film classics and has drawn New York tourists and high society alike for decades, will shut its doors on Oct. 16,” the New York Times reported on July 21.

The venue’s operator, Greek-American Dean J. Poll, has managed the restaurant since 2000 and “cited ‘rising labor and costs of goods,’ according to a notice filed in July,” the Times reported, adding that “all of the Boathouse’s 163 employees will be out of work after it shutters.”

“It’s a very difficult place to operate,” Poll told the Times. “It’s the location, the seasonality, it’s access and it’s expenses,” he added of the restaurant, “which is tucked away near the eastern shore of the Central Park Lake and not accessible to the public by car,” the Times reported.

A view from the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park. (Photo by Eleni Sakellis)
A view from the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park. (Photo by Eleni Sakellis)

Though “it could be the end of the road for the longstanding restaurant, which has changed hands several times since it first opened in 1983, the boathouse, which is one of 400 establishments located on city parklands, will not permanently close,” the Times reported.

“Officials from the Department of Parks and Recreation plan to find a new operator for the Boathouse ‘as soon as possible,’ Crystal Howard, a spokeswoman for the department, wrote in an email,” the Times reported, adding that “she also said the department is working ‘in good faith’ with the current operator to accommodate those who have scheduled corporate events and weddings there.”

“Inflation has surged across the country, with many New Yorkers facing soaring rent and grocery prices,” the Times reported, noting that “restaurants have been among the hardest hit sectors amid the coronavirus pandemic.”

“Jobs in the industry fell 70 percent from March to April 2020 in the city, and it has yet to recover, according to data from the Office of the New York State Comptroller,” the Times reported.

The Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce 25th Anniversary Gala on May 12 included dancing at the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

The Boathouse “previously closed on March 16, 2020, and Mr. Poll furloughed the workers then,” the Times reported, adding that “he announced in a notice in September 2020 that the Boathouse would remain closed for the foreseeable future, but the restaurant reopened in March 2021.”

“A spokesman for the union that represents workers at the Boathouse said the decision to close in October was deeply disappointing, and added that the laid off workers would be recalled if a new operator takes over,” the Times reported.

“The current brick and multi-columned boathouse, which opened in 1954 after Carl M. Loeb, an investment banker and philanthropist, and his wife, Adeline, donated $305,000 to rebuild it, is the third version to exist since the late 1800s,” the Times reported, adding that “the first, designed by Calvert Vaux in 1872, was a wooden Victorian structure that by 1924 had been replaced by a simpler design, which fell into disrepair by the 1950s.”

A view from the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park. (Photo by Eleni Sakellis)

“As a New York institution, the boathouse has graced the silver screen — from When Harry Met Sally to The Manchurian Candidate to 27 Dresses — and hosted the city’s elite, including Ivana Trump and Luciano Pavarotti,” the Times reported, noting that “The Boathouse is also a draw for nature enthusiasts and bird watchers, many of whom log their sightings in a Bird Register located inside the Boathouse’s lobby.”

The Boathouse was also a venue for many events hosted by Hellenic community organizations, including AHEPA, the Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Cyprus Children’s Fund, and the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity Philoptochos Society.

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