Central Park’s iconic Loeb Boathouse is likely on its way to reopening this summer after it abruptly shuttered late last year, Mayor Eric Adams announced Thursday.
During a press conference in front of the currently empty restaurant and concession stand near the center of the park on Thursday morning, the mayor unveiled that his administration has selected Legends Hospitality to be the Loeb Boathouse’s new operator. Adams said Legends — which operates the concessions at Yankee Stadium and the Intrepid Museum — has committed to $3.2 Million in capital funds and another $250,000 for “structural improvements.”
Legends is looking to “restore” the boathouse structure, revamp the restaurant’s menu and its boat rental service — including the addition of credit card payments and online booking. Plus, the concession purveyor will also be renovating and expanding the boathouse’s public bathrooms.
The mayor said when it became clear the boathouse would close last fall, he and his administration mobilized to find a new occupant for the 150-year-old structure.
“It is part of the New York story,” Adams said. “Back from 1872 and was rebuilt in the 1950s and just a continuation of tourists and people who are from this city coming out and enjoying the beauty of dining outdoors and the beauty of renting boats and moving around this beautiful park.”
“When it closed last year, we were all worried,” he continued. “I remember reading the stories and our teams coming together and saying that we cannot lose this landmarked treasure.”
The city opened the competitive bidding process for who would next run the boathouse concession last August, soon after news of its impending closure first broke. In that process, potential operators were given the chance to submit plans for how they’d run the restaurant, concession and boat rental.
The city Parks Department then ultimately picked Legends to be the site’s next steward. The department’s first deputy commissioner, Iris Rodriguez-Rosa, said Legends’ background as a concession provider and its ability to commit the necessary capital funds was what put it over the finish line.
“They have quite an extensive background in what they provide in hospitality, so that’s what won us over pretty much,” Rodriguez-Rosa said. “And the commitment to be able to commit the capital dollars to be able to refurbish this facility.”
But in order to officially get the license, Legends will have to go before the city’s Franchise and Concession Review Committee (FCRC) for a March 3 public hearing, according to the Parks Department. The application will then be reviewed in a March 8 FCRC meeting and finally sent to Comptroller Brad Lander’s office for registration.
The boathouse restaurant closed to the public last October due to “rising labor and costs of goods.”
Adams also touted the 200 union jobs he said will be brought back online with the boathouse’s reopening, after 163 employees were laid off because of its closure last year. Hotel Trades Council President Rich Maroko said the boathouse is a “lifeline” to the 200 workers who operate it.
“Sadly, after decades in operation, the boathouse closed its doors last year,” Maroko said. “And while everyone, visitors and residents alike, mourn the loss of this iconic venue, no one suffered more deeply than the workers who depended on it for their livelihood. Today, thanks to Mayor Adams and his team, we are one step closer to reopening the boathouse and bringing these folks back to work.”