Ortega Family Chosen to Run Historic Stow Lake Boathouse

Thursday, August 19, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO– The San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission approved today award-winning concessionaire Ortega Family Enterprises for the operation of the historic Stow Lake Boathouse in Golden Gate Park and authorized Recreation and Park Department staff to begin negotiations over specific lease details.

Ortega Family Enterprises (d/b/a “Cloudless Skies”) has more than 20 years of experience working in public parkland and 22 years of accident-free boat and kayak rental management experience.

“The Ortega Family is a great fit for one of San Francisco’s most beloved treasures,” said Phil Ginsburg, general manager of the Recreation and Park Department. “They have the business expertise to revitalize the boathouse, are sensitive to the site’s historic preservation needs, are environmentally conscientious, are committed to providing healthy, affordable and locally produced foods, and they understand the importance of maintaining the traditional charm and feel of Stow Lake that San Franciscans love.”

Ortega Family Enterprises is a family-run enterprise that emphasizes environmental sustainability and best practices in all phases of its business. It has a proven track record of turning around underperforming park concessions and maximizing their potential, including concessions at four National Park Service locations: Bandelier National Monument, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, White Sands National Monument and Muir Woods National Monument in the Bay Area.

Stow Lake Boathouse Concession
San Francisco Recreation and Parks
August 19, 2010

In 2009, the Ortega family won the Marin Conservation Council’s Green Business Award for its renovation and rejuvenated operation of the historic Muir Woods concession. They incorporated sustainable construction materials, implemented a trash disposal system that recycles and composts 90 percent of waste, and achieved significant electric and water savings. The Recreation and Park Department is looking to emulate this model at Stow Lake.

Ortega Family Enterprises has proposed the following improvements to the Stow Lake Boathouse operations:

 Capital improvements to stabilize and improve the boathouse building while preserving the facility’s historic architecture and charm. All restoration efforts will follow the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Preservation and will be completed to LEED-certified standards.
 A small, informal café that will feature traditional Stow Lake favorites like pink popcorn, pretzels and animal crackers while also providing a new menu of local, organic, healthy and sustainable food and beverage options. Menu items will remain affordable, ranging from $1 to $11.75, with most items available from $4.95 to $8.95.
 Investment in a new fleet of pedal, row and other boats while maintaining affordable boat rentals for the public
 A projected revenue increase of between 30 and 40 percent

Ortega Family Enterprises was selected by a panel of five individuals representing a wide range of expertise and experience, including a neighborhood representative, a historic preservationist, a proprietor of a small business, a Recreation and Park Commissioner and a former manager of boating operations at Lake Merritt Boat House.

Stow Lake was created in 1893 under the direction of W.W. Stow, then-president of the Recreation and Park Commission. Today, the lake continues to attract thousands of visitors annually to its shores. The Boathouse currently features a snack bar and is also used to rent and repair boats and bicycles.

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