New cafe to move into Echo Park Lake Boathouse [updated]

Echo Park - The cafe at the Echo Park Lake Boathouse is expected to reopen in about a month under new ownership.

The cafe concession at the boathouse has been granted to Julio Douglas, a neighborhood resident who currently runs the nearby Street Level Cafe on Glendale Boulevard. In addition to offering a full menu by the end of summer, Douglas plans to eventually hold movie nights, musical performances, readings for kids and other events.

“We want to maximize that space,” Douglas said. “Make it a community hub.”

The new name for the lakeside cafe? The Boathouse Bistro, Douglas said.

Douglas is getting a year-long contract for the space, according to Rachel Ramos, the concession manager for the city’s Department of Recreation and Parks. He has also been given 90 days before the contract begins, so he has time to prepare the cafe for opening, Ramos told the Rec and Parks’ Task Force on Concession.

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But Douglas said he won’t need that long to get going. He expects to open in the middle of August with drinks, ice cream, and a small menu. He then plans to add more food items, until they have a full menu by the end of August.

“We’ve got to get our kinks out, you know?” Douglas said.

The cafe at the boathouse has been vacant since December, when the previous operator left in the midst of restaurant restrictions during the pandemic. Douglas said he’s now spending the week cleaning, scrubbing, and painting the space. They need some equipment, they need some tile work. But overall, the space already isn’t that bad, he said.

Douglas is no stranger to the park or the neighborhood restaurant business. In addition to opening Street Level Cafe, he once worked at the nearby Brite Spot Diner. He lives a block-and-a-half from the park.

“I pass the park every day,” he said.

The menu at the new Boathouse Bistro won’t be the same as at Street Level Cafe. But Douglas said it will still emphasize “healthy-ish” food - which is to say, healthy food, but also French fries. Planned hours of operation are from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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Barry Lank has worked for newspapers on the East and West Coasts, and earned an MS in journalism from Columbia University. He formerly produced "National Lampoon Presents: The Final Edition." A native of San Gabriel Valley, he now lives in East Hollywood.

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