New operators plan to bring Central Park's iconic Loeb Boathouse back to life

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Thursday, February 16, 2023
New operators plan to bring Central Park's Loeb Boathouse back to life
Legends Hospitality will run the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park and bring the NYC landmark back to life.

CENTRAL PARK (WABC) -- New operators will take over the iconic Loeb Boathouse in Central Park and bring the 151-year-old landmark back to life.

Legends Hospitality will take over after a NYC Parks launched a competitive process to find a new operator in August.

The iconic restaurant closed its doors on Dec. 31 last year. The previous owner blamed it on a combination of fewer tourists and rising costs amid the pandemic.

Mayor Eric Adams announced outside the famed Boathouse on Thursday morning that industry leader Legends Hospitality would take over operations.

"The Central Park Boathouse has been a landmark for generations of New Yorkers," said Mayor Adams. "When it closed last year, many worried about its future, but our administration moved quickly to keep this piece of New York City history alive. Thanks to the fast work of NYC Parks, we've selected a new operator so the Boathouse can come back better than ever, ensuring tourists and New Yorkers alike can enjoy this beautiful space and scenery once again."

Legends Hospitality has committed to a $3,250,000 capital investment into The Loeb Boathouse, along with $250,000 for structural maintenance improvements.

The company is planning a complete refresh of the menus at the Boathouse, including collaborations with iconic chefs, and an overhaul of the boat rental program, with added credit card payment acceptance and an online booking system.

Their restoration plans also include renovating and expanding public restrooms, connecting the upper and lower outdoor dining patios and upgrading patio service, upgrading the building systems to be more efficient and sustainable, and fostering improvements to the outdoor bar to open up views from the pathways to the pond.

"Legends is honored to be selected by NYC Parks to operate the iconic Loeb Boathouse in Central Park," said Dan Smith, president, Legends Hospitality. "We proudly serve as stewards of legendary brands around the globe and are committed to making the Loeb Boathouse a dining destination that provides memorable experiences for visitors and locals for years to come."

The Loeb Boathouse first opened in 1872 and was rebuilt in 1952, and has since served as a unique dining and recreational amenity.

The restaurant's previous owner, Dean Poll, said he could no longer manage the restaurant due to financial struggles.

The restaurant was one of many negatively affected by the pandemic, with loss of tourist revenue and other market factors hitting it particularly hard. It reopened in March 2021 after temporarily closing for the pandemic.

Poll had run the restaurant since 2000, and it has changed hands several times since it first opened.

The boathouse is one of 400 establishments located on city parklands that the city outsources to private vendors to operate.

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