- Posted December 31, 2009 by
New York City, New York
This iReport is part of an assignment:
iReport for CNN
One Last Farewell to NYC's Tavern On The Green Before Changing Hands
Tavern on the Green restaurant, set in a lush grove in Central Park, will serve its last meal on New Year's Eve before changing hands.
The restaurant has for years been one of the highest grossing independently owned eateries in the US, serving crab cakes and Caesar salads to tourists who gaze out onto the park from richly appointed dining rooms furnished with chandeliers, stained glass murals and silver candelabras.
But the landmark restaurant's fortunes have declined during the recession and in August of 2009, the city awarded the concession to a restaurateur who next month will take over from the family that has operated it since 1976. The city owns the 27,000 square foot facility on Central Park's west side.
The restaurant is now in bankruptcy court and the current owners hope to sell many of the fixtures at auction next month to satisfy $8 million in debt.
The restaurant's name is in dispute too. The current owners say "Tavern on the Green" belongs to them, not the city, and they hope to sell the rights to the name they say is worth $19 million.
A judge is to rule on the name's ownership next month. New concessionaire Dean Poll, a restaurateur who operates the nearby Central Park Boathouse, will call it Tavern in the Park if he cannot keep the current name.
Poll’s proposal includes a $25 million capital investment, with a renovation that incorporates green technology. The restaurant will also expand its dining options to include banquet rooms, a club room offering small plates, and an outdoor cafe serving sandwiches and snacks.
The iconic restaurant will undergo major renovations under a new operator and may even retain its famous name, but to many patrons, this is indisputably the end of an era.
I personally have celebrated many happy special occasions at Tavern on the Green and have many wonderful memories of it. I will surely miss it; however, I'm also looking forward to the new "Tavern."
Attached are a few pictures of the interior of the restaurant that I took Wed., December 30, 2009, on my "farewell" visit.