Dean Poll

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Dean J. Poll (born April 18, 1957) is an American restaurateur based in New York and the founder of the Poll Group, owner of Manhattan's Loeb Central Park Boathouse and Gallagher's Steakhouse.

Background and early career[edit]

Born in Manhasset, on Long Island's North Shore, Dean Poll is the second of three sons of Alexandra and Dimitri Poll. He played center on the Paul D. Schreiber High School basketball team in Port Washington. On weekends and during school breaks he worked as a “water boy” in Pappas Restaurant, his family's high-volume, 250-seat seafood restaurant in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.

Poll started working full-time after high school when he became the purchasing manager for the family's newest property, a 14,000 sq ft. food complex in Midtown Manhattan's Time & Life Building. It comprised Dawson's Pub, La Petite Brassiere, Bon Jour coffee shop and Southampton Caterers that served the office building-dense Rockefeller Center neighborhood.

Diving into the restaurant's back-of-house trenches, Poll excelled at inspecting seafood in the legendary Fulton Fish Market, negotiating with meat brokers in Manhattan's once-gritty Meatpacking District, and sourcing vegetables in the South Bronx's Hunts Point, the largest produce market in the world.[1]

The Long Island years[edit]

In 1980, Dean Poll and his brothers, Gillis and George, recreated Pappas Restaurant in Williston Park, renaming it Riverbay Seafood Bar & Grill in 1989.[2] In 1986, they opened Bryant & Cooper Steak House and butcher shop in Roslyn. By 1997, The New York Times called Bryant & Cooper “arguably the best steakhouse on Long Island” and Riverbay, “Nassau-Suffolk's No. 1 seafood restaurant.[3]

Entering Manhattan market[edit]

Interested in expanding into Manhattan, Dean Poll dissolved his partnership with his brothers in 1998-1999. Dividing the assets, he retained ownership of Riverbay, while setting his sights on the Central Park Boathouse, a city-owned concession that was requesting proposals.

Central Park Boathouse[edit]

In June 2000, New York City's Department of Parks and Recreation awarded Dean Poll the concession for the Loeb Boathouse property,[4] one of only two restaurants in Manhattan's Central Park. It consists of a lakeside fine dining restaurant, a fast casual café and an event space.

Poll transformed the Boathouse into “a must-have NYC experience"[5] and "a proven money-maker, too."[6] Of the Parks Department's 1,800 concessions, the Boathouse is a significant contributor to the city's coffers, second only to the parking facilities at Shea Stadium.

In 2016, the city renewed the Boathouse's 15-year lease.

Tavern on the Green[edit]

In August 2009, the Parks Department granted Dean Poll the concession for Tavern on the Green, the second of two restaurants in Manhattan's iconic Central Park.[7] A major labor dispute erupted between Dean Poll and the union representing Tavern workers.[8] The dispute resulted in Poll backing out of the deal and the union organizing a 44-day strike [11] at the Boathouse. Ultimately the two sides came to terms.[9] Today they enjoy an exceptionally good relationship.[9]

Gallagher's Steakhouse[edit]

In January 2013, Dean Poll bought legendary Gallaghers Steakhouse from longtime owner Marlene Brody.[10] Rescuing the 200-seat, Prohibition-era restaurant 14 days before it was scheduled to close,[10] Poll began a strategic 7-month renovation that the New York Post's Steve Cuozzo likened to “stirring the resurrection of a classic.[11]” In February 2011, Gallaghers reopened to rave reviews [11] that celebrated Poll's success restoring its vintage horseshoe bar, iconic glass-encased meat locker.

On November 14, 2017, Gallagher's hosted its 90th birthday with a cocktail party that attracted 600 colorful Broadway stars, sports icons, business moguls and socialites.[12]

In December 2017, Poll's resurrection of Gallagher's was the subject of a New York Times article by James Barron.[13]

Personal life[edit]

Dean Poll and his wife Linda, whom he met in 1980, are parents of two sons. He is on the Board of the Boys’ Club of New York [14] and has served on the Board of the New York Athletic Club.

An active member of New York's Greek-American community, Poll served as the president of the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity from 2013 - 2016. The Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch named Dean Poll an Archon,[15] [17] Nomophylax, protector of laws and defender of the faith, one of the highest civilian honors given by the Greek Orthodox Church of the Order of St. Andrew.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Hunts Point Produce Market".
  2. ^ Joanne, Starkey (17 June 2007). "A Seafood Place with Roots in the Bay". Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  3. ^ Scholem, Richard J. (13 April 1997). "It's All in the Family and Keeps Growing". New York Times. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  4. ^ Keil, Braden (21 June 2000). "City Sinks Boathouse Restaurant Managers". New York Post. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  5. ^ "Zagat Survey 2018". Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  6. ^ Shott, Chris. "Food Business In A City Of Dying Historic Restaurants, Dean Poll Is Keeping Them Alive" (7 January 2015). Food Republic. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  7. ^ Collins, Glenn (28 August 2009). "Boathouse Operator to Run Tavern on the Green, and Changes Are Planned". New York Times. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  8. ^ Collins, Glenn (22 September 2009). "First Course at Tavern: A Clash With Labor". New York Times. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  9. ^ a b Greenhouse, Steven (22 September 2011). "Boathouse Strike Ends in Settlement". New York Times. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  10. ^ a b Cuozzo, Steve (3 January 2013). "Gallagher's gets a new steak on life". New York Post. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  11. ^ a b Cuozzo, Steve (8 April 2014). "Old bones, contemporary cuisine at Gallaghers Steakhouse". New York Post. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  12. ^ Friedman, Roger (14 November 2017). "Hollywood Royal Couple, Robert Wagner and Jill St. John, Still Cool As Ever from "Batman" and "Bond" to "NCIS"". Showbiz 411. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  13. ^ Barron, James (29 November 2017). "The Search for History in a Runyonesque Enclave". New York Times. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  14. ^ "The Boys' Club of New York website". Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  15. ^ "Archons website". Retrieved 24 January 2018.