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Central Park Boat House, A Tourist Favorite, To Permanently Close

The Central Park dedicatory sculpture The Rowers

The Central Park Boat House — an iconic pavilion within the confines of one of Manhattan’s most famed tourist sites and home to a prominent eatery, bar and café — is once again closing its doors.

Central Park Boat House filed a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification with the New York Department of Labor on July 15 announcing permanent layoffs of its 163 employees. It cited the rising costs of labor and goods as its reasons for closure, which will happen in October.

The site is home to a restaurant, a bar and a café, in addition to hosting private events.

Dean J. Poll, president of the Central Park Boat House, declined to confirm the certainty of the closure to Bisnow but said if it went ahead, the closure would affect all the Boat House’s food, beverage and entertainment offerings.

“My only objective is to operate a restaurant at a profit,” Poll said, adding  insurance costs have risen in addition to the costs of labor and goods. “Costs are rising faster than can be afforded by the facility.”

Central Park Boat House also filed a WARN notice in October 2020 when it closed due to the pandemic, The City reported at the time. The business then entered into conversations with the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation before reopening in March 2021, according to reporting from Gothamist, although Poll told Bisnow that NYC Parks didn't play a role in keeping the business afloat.

"This is an unfortunate situation. It is our intention to engage a future operator as soon as possible," NYC Parks Assistant Commissioner for Communications Crystal Howard told Bisnow by email. "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."

The Boat House originally began as a boat storage house on Central Park’s lake in the 1860s, according to its website. After several further iterations, the current Boat House opened to the public in March 1954 following a $300K donation from American Metal Co. founder and philanthropist Carl M. Loeb. The spot has also served as a feature in blockbuster movies, including When Harry Met Sally and 27 Dresses.

UPDATE, JULY 19, 5:10 P.M ET: This story has been updated with a comment from NYC Parks Assistant Commissioner for Communications Crystal Howard.