Pedal boats and cafe to return to Echo Park Lake Boathouse*

boatsEcho 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.


  1. SO COOL! That is great news – I LOVE Square One.

    Now if only they’d let them serve beer & winner, this would be the ultimate date place.

  2. Really cool, I am going happen to be there that day! Not at the boat house, but by the benches discussing the gang injunction. So, whoever opposes the gang injunction is invited. We the community still stand united!

    • I don’t think the community is united on opposing the gang injunction. I think there is a considerable number of people who favor the injunction. Good luck with that “stand united” thing.

      • You know True Freedom, you are totally lacking knowledge on this issue! They have kids on the gang injunction list, that aren’t even gang members. If you truly believe in true freedom, it should be for all. I was at the lake right now and it seem some people have entitlement issues as well. Good luck getting rid of us as a whole anyways. Oh, and I let that comment go, when you challenged me as if I need a weapon to combat you. You will see me at the park on July 20th, so feel free to approach me. Honestly, I don’t think you have the courage! Really I don’t know, you just might be a MMA fighter or something. I can tell you that I am not no little 5 foot 2 guy that you think you can knock off easily though!

        • Challenged you as if you need a weapon? Not sure what comment you’re talking about, but perhaps you should put the pipe down. Clouding your noodle.

          Sorry, I don’t go out seeking fights, because I’m not a knuckle dragging primate. I only use physical force when necessary to defend myself. Doesn’t have anything to do with courage… it has to do with some people moving to a higher level of evolution.

        • btw – you say “They have kids on the gang injunction list, that aren’t even gang members”

          Who are “they”?

          also, you say: “Good luck getting rid of us”

          Who is “us”?

          • True Freedom, maybe you are such a suffisticated human being that you should evalate yourself to another planet. To me you are no more than a coward with an opinion. They is you, and us is them! Do I really have to break it down for you. If you really want to know who we are, we are the minority, the less unfortunate. And you seem to be the more fortunate. We are struggling
            Americans, and you seem to be the one with all the answers for our community. After all I am still here, so therefore I am a part of this community right! Or, even my kids aren’t worthy of being a part either? But, now you are always correct and are not only worthy of more, and are of a higher level! You are not as smart as you think, dude.

        • The only people who oppose a gang injunction are gang members and gang sympathizers. This is 2013 and there are rules. No gangs allowed.

          • Forgive my ignorance, but I just had to google “gang injunctions”. How are they a bad thing?
            It seems like a fair amount of evidence needs to be recorded to get the injunction and the result is a safer community…

          • In NY they have a stop and frisk rule. Its resulted in the police stopping and searching an astonishing 106% of black males.


            So give Scholaris a chance to speak, I disagree with him as well on this because I think it can be done right, but if he wished to discuss concerns about his kids being profiled and searched along with other young innocent hispanic males I think people owe it to him to listen. I’d like to hear how the police plan on enforcing this injunction without creating a lifetime of animosity towards the police among the at risk youth in Echo Park. That won’t help anyone. However, if he plans on giving a talk about the benefits of gangs, or anything like that he’ll quickly loose my respect and ear.

          • @dingus

            106% black males? How is that possible?

        • Dude. Your mind is so warped. No one opposes the gang injunction

        • @scholaris

          No one wants to remove normal people. Just gangbangers. What part of criminal organization do you not understand? What do you think the gangs do when they get together? Help little old ladies across the street and pick up litter? They bring in tagging, guns & violence. All of which are not welcome.

          As for the lake, I finally went for a stroll a few days ago and must say the city did a great job. I also agree with the other comments about the illegal vendors. the bells & hollering are annoying to say the least. Also saw several kids swimming in the lake…..I have mixed feelings about that part.

          And people, pick up your damn trash! What’s the point of the city fixing the place up if people can’t even be bothered to properly dispose of their rubbish?

        • LOL…Seems like they need injunction on this page-

  3. so glad it’s not a Starbucks. jogging around the park and enjoying the variety of people hanging out the past few weeks has been fantastic. putting a Starbucks there would have added an element of corporate blah like some kind of damn turnpike rest stop that just wouldn’t make any sense.

  4. Hot damn, Councilmember O’Farrell….now you’re talkin’.

  5. I’m very happy to hear this. But, um, I’m not sure how I feel about spending 12 dollars on a sandwich…

    • Yeah. Square one is an interesting choice, more upscale than I thought would end up there. Curious how large the menu will be. Any breakfast items? I’m also curious if the price point will be too high for most. But definitely better than heatlamp hot dogs and pizza. It’s only a ‘3 month experiment’, so worth it to to try.

      • I’m thinking that if someone feels the Square One Dining price point to be too high, there will still be 1001 bell ringing pedal food carts being pushed around the pathway to choose from…

        • Square One is being granted exclusive use of a portion of public space — and in this case, what would actually be prime real estate. And to honor the purpose of a public park, any amenity established there should serve not just a few who can afford it, but be attainable to a large proportion of the public.

          Perhaps Square One will develop a menu that it is in line with this principle. Let’s hope so.

          • They are not being “granted” anything. They are paying RENT in exchange for the space. They can charge what they’d like because it’s a business.

            Sometimes the bleeding heart squirts blood in the eyes… or is it that liberals are just plain dumb.

          • You can get into semantics, but yes — Square One would be paying rent, in exchange for which they would be granted a concession. That doesn’t change the fact that they must still honor the purpose of a public park. We can’t just auction off public park space to the highest bidder for pure profit motives. (Square One couldn’t gain its concession and just turn around and start drilling for oil under the boathouse because it found the profits more compelling.) There are standards here. The objective is to provide an amenity that will benefit the public at large. Again, maybe Square One will provide this. It remains to be seen.

            Not sure where your hostility is coming from. Can’t we just discuss things on a friendly level?

          • It would only be “exclusive” if the city enforced the ban on illegal food vendors around the park. Which they never will. Short of that, there are plenty of “affordable” options beyond the boat house. Don’t believe me? Take a walk around the park in the morning you will see ice cream wrappers, little caesars pizza boxes and corn-on-the-cob remnants strewn about.
            Not hostile, but your attitude that we should have (another) crappy government subsidized element part of our lives kindy makes me cringe. Yes, the DMV, perfect example of what I’d like in my concession stand! GROSS!!!

  6. not a bad idea. there are a ton of vendors in the park as it is that cover all of the more affordable food options.

  7. I would like to ban the use of bells and other loud racket in the park that the illegal vendors use to draw attention to their illegal vending. It is impossible to nap, relax, or read a book at the park without the sound of non-stop jingle bells polluting the air. This park is for the people, not for hundreds of illegal vendors to come and make a bunch of noise disturbing the peace.

    • +1
      We actually left the other day because of the racket…

      • Oh my god NOISE at an outdoor park?! Heaven forbid you cant nap outside, at a park, with children and cars and people playing music. Oh but it’s the vendors are the ones that were the most outrageous, with their bells and everything!

      • At least you had that option, homeless have to leave because they are undesirable. I wish they would have had a live mariachi band, so you can really wine! There is even noise in Elysian Park! Next there should read a sign, “no sleeping in the park!” Maybe you should consider moving to like Hidden Hills , or someplace where they have a noise reduction ordanace. Bye !

  8. If so-called “Chaffey and Reeves” has operated boating concessions in other parts of Southern California then why does a search for their name return NO results at all – I smell a no-bid corrupt deal.

    Square One should NOT be given a “concession” at a public park! That is such Reagan-era neoliberal BS! The food concession should be run by the city as a non-profit for the benefit of the community as should the boating concession. Privatizing these items gives these businesses a free ride on the public-funded park’s desirable location. Anyone with a real conscience should oppose these giveaways to private money grubbers. It is a public park – DO NOT ALLOW PRIVATE CONCESSIONS TO SCAM IT!

    • Oh, give me a break. Square One and Gngergrass are local, independent family-run businesses. The owner sends his kid to our preschool, which is hardly the toniest preschool in town.

      Running a restaurant is a low-margin affair — especially in a park boathouse. It’s mostly pain and suffering. You should be glad that a high-quality independent businessman wants to take the project on instead of some corporate franchise. Stop turning your neighbors — good honest hard-working people — into enemies in service to some abstract ideological cartoon of yours.

      How about just some good food and some boats? What’s wrong with that?

      • +1! Bravo Greybeard! Could not have said it better myself!

        • 106% because some of the blacks that were searched were searched multiple times. Also, BEANTEAM, we get your a hardcore conservative, and you have a right to that, but you can try to talk to people with a little bit more respect. You wouldn’t speak this way to someone in public I don;t understand why an online forum gives you cause to abandon all civility? Just chill dude.

          • Just because I call out how dumb some liberals are doesn’t make me hardcore conservative. It makes the liberal defensive. That’s all.

            And what, can’t ask questions about a post “DUDE”. By the way I’m not a DUDE. Talk about assumptions, dingbatus.

      • another neighbor

        woohoo!! well said.

    • A city-run concession? Oh boy! That would sure be swell food. Are you mad?

  9. @scholaris : how fortunate someone is.. is all relative. Yes, I’m fortunate. But even when I was what you’d consider “less fortunate”, I still felt fortunate. This is because I chose to focus on the good things in my life. I chose not to focus on how much more fortunate others were than me.. I kept reminding myself how much more fortunate I was than other folks around the world.

    I had the great chance to travel to parts of sub-saharan africa. If you had, you’d spend alot less time complaining about how downtrodden you (and others around you) are and consider yourself incredibly fortunate. I won’t change your mind. I won’t be able to stop you from feeling sorry for yourself. That must come from you.

    with respect to the gang injunction, I’d be willing to bet that many folks at your same level of fortune are sick and tired of gangs… and are happy with an injunction.

    • It never seems to amaze me how people contribute to the biggest gang in
      Los Angeles, which is the LAPD. I’ve worked consistantly for a number of years after being incarcerated, and have done my best to raise my kids in this neighborhood. Now I and my children, and friends are under major scrutiny by police and someothers who are quick to judge. Realistically, it is a lose lose situation. Not, everyone here despises us as a whole; although, I can’t justify everyone of my friends, we are who we are right? And all we can do is live life to our best ability. Whether or not the hand that we are dealt, I am sure I have it better than a lot of others. I think I am doing my part to be somewhat a decent, person. It is more of a complexed matter here.People may want it simplified as easy as black and white, but I am not that simple personally! I consider myself like an endangered species, or one of a kind! Next, they should hit all crips and bloods as well as skin heads. And please don’t violate my constitutional rights either. Call me smoked out, or what ever you like but I am gonna push and continue to breathe the same air on this same continent as you and whoever don’t like it, that is fact! I don’t feel sorry for myself, this is a beautiful neighborhood and I represent it to the fullest. I’ve been to Hawaii, I’ve been to Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Atlanta, and more. I also grew up in these hills, which is Elysian to me! Also, before a lot of these co-existing gangs have ever come into existence. I really don’t feel sorry for myself, I have a very rich lifestyle. Not rich with money, but what I call very well seasoned. I feel more for those who are really lacking knowledge. It is what it is!

      • It’s good to hear that you’re working hard for a better life, and trying to be a decent person and leave your past behind. I respect that. And props for putting in the effort to be a father…Lord knows it ain’t easy, and lesser men give up and walk away.

        I’m sorry your kids and friends are under scrutiny. Unfortunately, they are having to deal with mistakes you made. These are consequences for your previous actions, and unfortunately, you just gotta own it. The good news, is hopefully the injunction.. coupled with what I hope are good teachings from their father.. should keep them from falling into a similar trap as you did in your youth.

        • Thanks for being man enough for some kinda understanding! I’d rather stay inside on a Friday night, the body snatchers are out there! Good night everybody, enjoy!

          • Scholaris, you remind me of the women that fall in love with life sentence killers like Richard Ramirez. If you are looking for ‘vato’ love, just go to the bars in Silverlake. The creeps you are standing up for WILL turn on you the instant you show any vulnerability. Sorry your pops wasn’t around. You are not gonna find the fulfillment you are looking for with cholo losers.

  10. Who are you to judge anyone …

  11. Mr. Garcetti may have accidently provoked Mr. Himmelstein’s enthusiasm over the prospect of L.A. City granting him a contract to operate the cafe concession in the new Echo Park Lake Boathouse.

    The unwritten practice grants first refusal to Patina Catering for food concession at city owned facility. If Patina is not interested in the boathouse cafe, then they don’t see much potential for profitability.

    Of course, if Mr.Himmelstein is given the concession and is able to develop it into a successful location in the following 5 years, the City can still rank him second among applicants for the renewal and award Echo Park to Patina for next 5 years.

  12. I’m a Latino professional and i LOOOOOOVE that the gangbanging idiots are being driven out of the city like so many rats. All of you should give El Sereno a look if you want to buy a home with incredible downtown views and great architecture.

  13. Back to the topic of pedal boats & Square One concession stand…it would be nice if they could get permit to serve cold beer or wine. You can always go incognito with BYOB.

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