Several weeks ago, a tipster informed us that the Boat Basin Cafe, located at the rotunda overlooking the 79th Street marina, had announced its closure on its Facebook page.
The waterfront dining spot, which overlooks the Hudson River, had always operated seasonally, but the latest announcement seemed to suggest that it was saying goodbye for good. The city is set to begin a long-planned reconstruction of the boat basin rotunda, which serves as a vehicular connection to the West Side Highway, and provides access to the Hudson River Greenway.
Back in December, West Side Rag reported that construction, which would have also included a restoration of the fountain, was estimated to take at least four years.
That's an awful long hiatus for a restaurant to take.
John Szydlik, who worked as the Boat Basin's Cafe for 14 years before leaving in January, told Gothamist that the closure was permanent.
"They closed it for good," he said, adding that the space was falling apart.
He said the city will eventually allow operators to bid on using the reconstructed space, which would be reserved for a fine dining restaurant, but that the operators of Boat Basin Cafe had no plans to enter the bidding process. "We’re totally out of it now," he said.
The property is owned by the city, which strikes agreements with restaurant operators. According to the Parks Department, the Boat Basin Cafe still has a concession agreement in place.
Messages left for the restaurant were unanswered. The Facebook page has since been taken down as well as the business's website.
The cafe opened back in the spring of 1997, garnering a mention from Ruth Reichl, then the New York Times restaurant critic. Over the years, it has had several operators, but its fan-favorite cocktail concoctions like the Huckleberry lemonade and scenic backdrop made it a consistently popular establishment.
In September, Gothamist arts and culture editor Ben Yakas included the Boat Basin Cafe in our Ultimate Guide To Riverside Park. "On an average summer weekend day, the cafe will be filled to the brim with tourists and locals—if you like watching yachts pull in to refuel, it's the best spot in the city," he wrote.
UPDATE: The Parks Department has now said that the agreement with Boat Basin Cafe will expire in April 2020. Construction on the rotunda complex is expected to begin in mid-2020. The Parks Department plans to issue a new request for proposals closer to the completion of construction.