Restaurant gets 5-year lease at boathouse in North Park

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North Park's landmark boathouse will become home to a new eatery that could open by St. Patrick's Day.

Allegheny County Council on Tuesday approved a five-year lease with the operators of the Over The Bar Bicycle Cafe that will allow them to open a North Hills branch of their casual-dining establishment. The boathouse is west of Pearce Mill Road in the McCandless portion of the 3,075-acre park.

"We hope the restaurant will become another hub of activity in the park," partner Michael Kotyk said after the council vote. Initial plans call for the cafe to be open seven days a week, year-round, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Like its South Side Pittsburgh parent, the Over The Bar Bicycle Cafe at North Park will have waitress service, a liquor license and offer a variety of food choices, including vegetarian dishes.

Mr. Kotyk said the new restaurant will place special emphasis on a healthy menu that will appeal to the many walkers, runners and cyclists who visit North Park. "We want to give them the energy they need to get back on their bikes," he said.

County parks director Andrew Baechle said the Bicycle Cafe made the only proposal when the county advertised for projects to convert a portion to another use. The county will retain the right to rent out the second floor of the building for dinners and receptions. The nonprofit organization, Venture Outdoors, will continue to operate its Kayak Pittsburgh rental concession in another part of the boathouse.

The Bicycle Cafe expects to spend about $485,000 converting the boathouse space into an eatery, including $280,000 in building improvements.

The restaurant will pay an initial annual rent of $36,000 that will gradually rise to $60,000 by year five of the lease. Renewal terms for years six through 10 call for rent of $69,000 per year.

Encouraged by county council, the administration of county Executive Rich Fitzgerald has been seeking new ways to raise revenues, especially for building and park maintenance, without increasing taxes. Councilman Vince Gastgeb, R-Bethel Park, praised the public-private restaurant deal, calling it a win-win for the county and the cafe operators.

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Len Barcousky: or 412-263-1159.


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