PITTSBURGH – Allegheny County officials celebrated the fruition of a unique public-private partnership in North Park today, as they christened the OTB at the Boathouse Café after nearly a year’s worth of work. The café had its soft opening last week and is now open seven days a week, opening for lunch at 11:00 a.m. with the kitchen closing at 10:00 p.m.
“Today’s christening of the restaurant is really a celebration of what can be done when we think outside of the box and find new ways to provide services to our residents without raising taxes,” said County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “We’re very excited about the café’s opening and the buzz that it is generating in this area by residents and visitors alike. We hope that the successes of the café here in North Park can lead to other opportunities throughout our Parks system.”
OTB Bicycle Café South Side founder Michael Kotyk envisioned the Boathouse as a community and recreational hub featuring a café, but also still providing recreational opportunities including the kayak and canoe rental run by Venture Outdoors. The café includes a small bar area and indoor and outdoor table seating. Its menu includes healthy options as well as some favorites from the café’s other location in the South Side. Features are named after North Park trails and locations, including the North Ridge Nachos and the Latodami Hummus.
“This is a unique and exciting opportunity to breathe life back into the beautiful structure of the North Park Boathouse that we expect will truly enhance the experience of park users,” said Mike Kotyk, North Park OTB at the Café founder. “We’re looking forward to offering the perfect venue for meetings, seminars and classes, while also providing interesting activities to keep people coming back to visit the park.”
Last November, Allegheny County Council authorized a five-year lease with the Café operators for an initial rent of $36,000 that will gradually rise to $60,000 in year five. The lease also allows for two two-year extensions. The Café invested in the neighborhood of $550,000 in the project to date, of which over $300,000 was in building improvements. Moving forward, the operators would like to add breakfast to its service.
“The new café is a complement to the GoApe! Zipline that has been open since early Spring in North Park,” said Council Vice President Nick Futules, the Chairman of the Parks Committee. “Both of these partnerships will provide a real boost for our local economy and offer a destination for out-of-town visitors that we may not have had otherwise.”
Council Member Jan Rea, whose district includes North Park, also expressed her pleasure with the new offering: “This is a win-win for the county, the OTB at the Boathouse Café, and the people who use North Park whether it’s on a daily or infrequent basis. Our parks are already a hub of activity and I look forward to the growth that we will continue to see from projects like these.”
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