Echo Park Lake may have reopened last month after a two-year-long clean up but the park’s landmark boathouse has remained shut down despite an extensive renovation. That will change soon, however, as a new pedal boat concession and cafe – operated by Square One Dining, a highly regarded East Hollywood cafe – prepare to open in the next few weeks on a temporary basis.
Chaffey and Reeves, which has operated boating concessions in other parts of Southern California, is scheduled to start renting pedal boats beginning July 20, said Councilman Mitch O’Farrell. About a week later, Square One Dining is scheduled to start serving meals on August 1.
“I’m happy to announce that Echo Park Lake will have two new concessions taking part in a pilot program for the summer,” said Councilman Mitch O’Farrell. “What’s even more exciting is that a motion I recently introduced will allow me to collaborate with Recreation and Parks and the community on bringing permanent concessions to the park after this 90 day period. I’m thrilled that our collective vision for recreating at Echo Park Lake is finally taking shape.”
John Himelstein, one of the owners of Square One Dining as well as Gingergrass, a Vietnamese-style restaurant in Silver Lake, said he and his partners became interested in the boathouse after newly elected Mayor Eric Garcetti, a customer, mentioned that the city was still looking for someone to run the cafe concession even as officials were preparing to reopen the park. “We just felt like having a meal outside the boathouse overlooking the lake was pretty special,” said Himelstein, who lives in Silver Lake.
The menu at boathouse cafe, which will be called Square One In The Park, is still being refined but Himelstein said it will include a weekend brunch and simpler “park fare,” including hamburgers and corn dogs as well as scones and fresh-squeezed juices, during the week.
The city’s Recreation and Parks Department was initially seeking one firm to operate both the boating and cafe concession in the 1,500-square foot boathouse. But eventually the department began looking for separate operators under a pilot program. It’s not clear what will happen after the pilot program ends but Himelstein said he assumes the arrangement will become long term.
Echo Park Now reported earlier this month that the company seeking the boating concession was close to finalizing an agreement with the city.
It’s been about four years since the city closed the boathouse to the pubic and halted pedal boat rentals as part of a cost-cutting measure.
* This post has been updated with information about the restaurant concession.