The iconic Central Park Boathouse has had to shut its doors until spring and permanently lay off 163 furloughed staff as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Staff at the Boathouse restaurant in New York have been let go due to ‘unforeseeable business circumstances prompted by COVID-19’, according to a Department of Labor notice.
The notice gives its reason for filing the layoff notice as ‘temporary plant closure’.
The Loeb Boathouse has been one of the most famous locations in Central Park since it first opened in 1954 and has featured in movies including When Harry Met Sally.
But it has struggled due to a lack of tourism and big groups allowed in the restaurant and has not welcomed customers since March, despite being allowed to reopen now.
A manager who answered the phone when approached by DailyMail.com last week said it was simply ‘impossible’ to run the restaurant under current rules.
Boathouse owner Dean Poll says he will try to reopen the restaurant in April after having talks with the city’s Parks Department.
A source close to the restaurant told the New York 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 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,
He said he wanted to ‘renegotiate terms for the balance of the remaining years of the license agreement’.
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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 under the 15-year license deal with the Parks Department signed in 2017.
Poll spent around $2.9 million in 2018 to renovate the building and has a 15-year concession agreement with the Parks Department.
He also owns Gallagher’s Steakhouse in Manhattan, which reopened at the end of September.
Parks Department spokesperson Megan Moriarty said the restaurant is allowed to reopen ‘to the extent it can operate in accordance with the applicable state COVID-related guidelines’.
She told THE CITY: ‘The restaurant has been closed since March, and we haven’t been charging the monthly license fees since then.’
The Loeb boathouse was named after banker and philanthropist Carl Loeb who donated $305,000 for an earlier 1870s-era boathouse to be demolished and rebuilt in 1954.
It is a special-occasion destination for New Yorkers and tourists and has featured in several movies, including Manchurian Candidate and 27 Dresses.
It is known for its rowboats that can be rented to explore the lake and is the only Manhattan venue directly on the lake.
New York’s restaurants and bars have continued to struggle as the coronavirus pandemic enters its seventh month.
While restaurants can continue outdoor dining year-round, some restaurateurs are worried that addition won’t be enough to sustain them through the winter.
Current capacity restrictions on indoor dining may not be able to fill the gaps for struggling businesses.
Nearly 150 bars and restaurants have closed in the city as of September because of the pandemic.
Last week, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli released the audit that predicts between a third and half will shutter in the next six months which will cost 150,000 people their jobs.
The audit also found that only 55 per cent of pre-pandemic employment in the restaurant industry had returned as of August.
Restaurants in New York City are currently limited to only allowing 25 percent of their normal capacity which makes it impossible for them to turn a profit. Bars, meanwhile, are still forbidden from opening.
The audit found that of in 2019, there were 23,650 bars and restaurants in New York City. As many as 12,000 could close in the next six months if no other help is given to businesses from the federal government, it claimed.
‘Estimates of the potential permanent closures of City restaurants and bars over the next six months to a year have generally ranged from one-third to one-half of all establishments that existed before the pandemic.
‘At the high end, that could result in a permanent loss of nearly 12,000 of the City’s restaurants and bars, and nearly 159,000 industry jobs, although the opening of new restaurants would mitigate some of these losses,’ the report reads.