COVID-19 has sunk the Central Park Boathouse restaurant, a landmark on the lake since 1954 — but it could pop back to the surface next spring, owner Dean Poll told The Post.
The iconic eatery’s closing was reported after Poll notified the New York State Labor Department that it was permanently laying off all 163 furloughed employees. The lakeside eatery has been dark since March.
But although the layoffs are permanent, the shutdown is temporary, according to the filing and to Poll himself.
Diners in the eatery’s roughly 200 seats enjoy a picturesque setting with views of the Central Park lake and the Upper West Side in the distance. The restaurant has appeared in movies including “When Harry Met Sally.”
Poll said he’s been in talks with the city’s Parks Department, which has licensed the place to Poll for more than 20 years, to “discuss ways” for the Boathouse to reopen.
A source close to the situation told The Post, “They weren’t going to reopen short-term, since the Boathouse depends a lot on both tourists and large parties. The tourists aren’t there, and large parties aren’t allowed, so it made no sense for them to try to reopen now.”
In a statement, Poll said that he and the city “agree that due to the coming winter months, the Boathouse will reopen next season in April.”
Poll added that he hoped to make a deal with the restaurant’s union, New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council, to hire back union staff based on seniority and to “renegotiate terms for the balance of the remaining years of the license agreement” with the city.
Under the 15-year license deal with the Parks Department signed in 2017, Poll pays the city a fee of up to $1.702 million or 7.2 percent of gross annual receipts, whichever is greater, up to $22 million each year.
Poll reopened the Boathouse in 2017 after a months-long closing for $2.9 million worth of refurbishing and modernization.
Parks Dept. spokeswoman Megan Moriarty said the Boathouse is allowed to reopen in accordance with state COVID-19 rules. She said that the city hasn’t billed the restaurant for the fee since the government-ordered March shutdown.