Boat Basin Cafe Is Closed for Good, Reports Say

The Boat Basin Cafe is closed for the winter, but reports now say that the cafe is not coming back, given that the city plans to start soon on a construction project at the 79th Street rotunda where the restaurant sits.

Gothamist checked in with a former staff member who said the restaurant is gone, and its Facebook site and website have been deactivated. The phone number no longer appears to be hooked up.

The cafe posted a notice on its Facebook page saying goodbye before the page was taken down.

The Parks Department told Gothamist that the city’s agreement with the Boat Basin expires in April and the city will issue a new request for proposals for the space when construction on the rotunda is closer to being over. That could be four years from now, according to city officials who spoke at a meeting we reported on late last year.

The Boat Basin has been around since 1997, and is a staple of Riverside Park. Hopefully, a similar cafe will replace it.

FOOD, NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 27 comments | permalink
    1. Cordcutter says:

      So many fun memories, from younger days.

    2. Cyrus says:

      Sad news about the Boat Basin. It was a fantastic gathering spot during the warm months

    3. Robert Sheridan says:

      Typical NYC government construction time. Four Years!

      Four years for the return of a unique and pleasant oasis. Trump got fed up with it taking years to do Wollman and finished in weeks. Isn’t there anybody else around who can work at that speed?

      TR Dog Run is taking a year for a project budgeted at less than $1million.


    4. Carlos says:

      The food was mediocre and overpriced but I can think of few better places to have dinner on a nice summer day – it made you feel like you were far from the hustle-bustle of the big city. And as I get older, it always made me feel youthful. Hopefully it will be replaced.

    5. LL says:

      What’s bei g constructed?

    6. Ted Leibowitz says:

      Been going there since day one. Will be missed.

    7. maurice trauring says:

      Used to play in that fountain. It had turtles spraying out water. The good old days. I heard the turtles got lost, but Mayor Koch had one in his office.
      Yup the good old days.

    8. Nancy says:

      And our dogs were always welcomed with a water bowl and a friendly pat. It was a wonderful spot and will be missed. Thank you to all the servers. You were great!

    9. Nicole says:

      I got engaged there. Beyond devastated.

    10. Catherine Holmes says:

      So many great memories- impossible to replace!
      Why should it take 4 years!!??
      Have been going there since the O’Neal’s had it from beginning. Will leave a big hole in UWS summers

    11. BillyNYC says:

      It was a good run…and great memories!
      Lots of fun in the late 90s early 2000’s.

    12. Harriet F says:

      The thing we all are forgetting in these comments is that for decades this rotunda was a dangerous place where no one went unless they wanted anonymous sex, to buy drugs, or to be mugged. The Boat Basin cafe added life to a sad area. That said, then entire 79th St rotunda and surface street needs a makeover VERY badly. I notice that people want everything to be in good condition but they don’t want the inconvenience of having it fixed. Weird point of view. Not being a construction engineer, I’m not entitled to an opinion on how long the project will take. OK, enough. The food at the Boat Basin cafe was quite mediocre. I always went to the Pier I Cafe, 8 blocks south in the park. I’m hoping the operator of the Pier I Cafe will get the franchise for the Boat Basin once the renovation work is complete.

    13. Sandy says:

      Very sad to see this closing! Our dog is equally devastated. This was our weekly escape at the end of a hard week. Hope it will be replaced.

    14. AC says:

      Place was a trap for tourist and yuppies who arrived in the 90’s. Place was way overpriced and food was blahhh. I always found it amusing that people were eating in what used to be a drug and homeless shelter (80’s). The Boat Basin Restoration Project won’t really be a complete restoration project unless that fountain is restored. It use to shoot water up really high, visible enough for circling cars to view.

      The fun and good UWS days.

    15. Caution: Progress Ahead says:

      Nostalgia, thy name is Drama Queen.

    16. Riversideboulevarder says:

      The Boat Basin Cafe will be missed despite the mediocre food. It is lovely to eat and look out over the water.

      Regarding timing, that is a rather complicated structure to repair. The cafe is actually under a bridge, on top of a large cavernous garage and adjacent to the Amtrack tracks. Compare that to another nearby project that has taken OVER 4 YEARS: The extension of Riverside Park South. They are only moving dirt and adding a few walkways and the dirt moving was mostly done 4 years ago…

      • Juan says:

        Great point and to build further on it, most of the peripheral areas can’t just be shut down to do this project. If they could just shut down the 79th street on/off ramp, this would like go a lot more quickly, but that is not possible. So they have to do this in parts, which takes a lot longer.

    17. Richardson’s says:

      This is where my husband and I had our first date. 3 years later, we had our wedding weekend brunch there. This summer we brought our daughter there to show her where her parents met. So many wonderful memories, so very sad to see it closed. Thank you @boatbasincafeny ♥️

    18. robert says:

      I have to laugh so much at this whole issue as it regards the bike issues around it.
      The area will be closed off for 5 or 6 years. Yes I know the construction is supposed to be 4 years or less, but this is a NYC/NYS DOT project.
      With pressure from bike lobby groups and their supporters at CB7 the very tight budget of RS park was pushed into spending money mid summer on paving signage etc in the area which will all be ripped out starting this fall.
      I hope they build into this bathrooms that the new restaurant can use themselves and better access. The park bathrooms were used by the restaurant and park goers. The stench/filth in them was over powering.
      Also it should be noted that the engineering study showed that parking the MTA M79 busses up on the rotunda greatly added to its structurally issues. This started when they extended the bus line to RSD. The rotunda was never made to carry that weight. They no longer do that but the damage has been done.

    19. Gabriela Park says:

      Glad to see it gone. Overpriced sports bar fare and filled with bland stereotypical yuppies and their aspiring wannabes. Hopefully something more interesting comes along.

    20. Jaime says:

      Lol 😂 I stop there twice in the last 8 years, to take a small plastic cup of beer, and microwave food, yes microwave food. 😂 Don’t care.

    21. Steve Ross says:

      The city has spent years digging around tiny Montefiori park at 137th and Broadway. It is still a mess. So even 4 years is optimistic. In that timeframe, private developers built $25 billion Hudson Yards … and we fought and won WW2.

    22. Patricia Jackson says:

      Keep the cafe open.

    23. Susan Gutterman says:

      People who want to eat in Riverside Park next summer should go to Pier 1. Food is GOOD (their chocolate mousse torte is to die for, I had one with their excellent coffee just last week) & ambience relaxed & pleasant during the day on weekdays.
      Also — I have a letter from former Mayor Koch about that turtle!

    24. Lorene says:

      Wonder what it could be? Like we don’t already know it’ll be another soulless high-rise. Hey, whatever happened to the public having access to waterfronts? Those days are long gone.

    25. gm60 says:

      does that mean the boat marina is closing permanently too?