Dean Poll: A New York Restaurateur At The Center Of It All

The Boathouse, located in the heart of New York City’s Central Park, is a tourist attraction and a favorite of locals.
The Boathouse, located in the heart of New York City’s Central Park, is a tourist attraction and a favorite of locals. Image Used with Permission

Central Park's Boathouse captures imagination of locals and tourists alike.

Central Park's Boathouse captures imagination of locals and tourists alike.

Dean Poll determinedly runs a tight ship at the Boathouse, the famous fine-dining restaurant set amid the bucolic surroundings of New York’s Central Park.

The iconic restaurant and banquet facility, which boasts outdoor dining along with unrivaled views of the lake in Central Park, has been the setting for myriad weddings big and small, has served as the backdrop for many a movie filmed on location in New York City, and has catered to the needs of locals and tourists alike looking to experience high-end dining in the most picturesque location the city has to offer.

Dean Poll

Poll, proprietor of Central Park Boathouse LLC, the operating company that runs the Boathouse concession for New York City’s Department of Parks and Recreation, says the restaurant is symbolic of the kind of establishment he always dreamed of operating, and it is the crown jewel of his restaurant business. He says he knew it even before he took over the Boathouse’s contract, when the place still was in dire need of renovations. He recognized it was a diamond in the rough and knew he had to be the one to transform it into one of the most-visited dining destinations in New York City. It seems he was right, too. Today the facility generates about $20 million in annual revenue.

According to Poll, the Boathouse has been located on Central Park’s west side since 1858. He notes, however, that in all of those years it has never been operated quite the same way it is now, as a full-service restaurant and banquet concern, bar and grill and takeout counter. The structure that houses the current facility was constructed in 1954 and is the third to have been built, he says.

“It was a gift from the Loeb family—Carl and Adele Loeb, whose grandson was the U.S. ambassador to Denmark and still is a customer here to this day,” Poll says. “When I first came here to look at it, I couldn’t even find it,” he remembers. “I entered [the park] at 76th Street and asked where it was. And when I finally found it [on 72nd Street], I was floored. I saw its great possibilities.”

He says that at the time of that first visit, the building was “rimmed with graffiti and in terrible disrepair,” in need of major renovations. So when the Parks Department awarded him the Boathouse contract in October 2000, he began making plans and started implementing lots of changes.



I had worked for Dean many years ago and had great respect for his hands on style and strong work ethics. Anyone that puts in a life time of passion to build great resturants is going to be defensive against threats. You raise you children and protect them. Any one that knows Dean will tell you he is a good person. I hope the parks commisioner takes a close look into any alegations before they act in a negative way. 

Dean...not the the thug.

Randolpthomm, You are the type of person that was never on the side of ownership or managing other people. You are the type that will always work for someone else and will always complain about them.

I am a frequent visitor to the Boathouse; It is a very special place in many, many ways.  Unfortunately because of Peter Ward and his fellow unions thugs, this wonderful restaurant will go out of business just as Tavern On The Green.  I feel badly for Dean Poll; he is being crucified.  In this case, as far as the city fathers and union personnel are concerned, there is no end to their stupidity and greed.  They deserve to end up with nothing for all the grief they have caused. Little Old Lady In Tennis Shoes 


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