New York’s Tavern on the Green, the Central Park restaurant popular with tourists that closed in 2009, will reopen next year as a casual eatery operated by the Emerald Green Group of Philadelphia, city officials said.
Emerald Green principals Jim Caiola and David Salama have operated Beau Monde/L’etage in Philadelphia for more than a decade, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said in a news release. Katy Sparks has been hired as executive chef, after having worked at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill and Bolo as well as the Quilted Giraffe, all in Manhattan.
“They have done an outstanding job with Beau Monde in Philadelphia and their vision for the iconic Tavern on the Green will create a casual restaurant and outdoor café that everyday park-goers, neighbors and visitors can enjoy,” Benepe said in a statement.
The deal, if approved by the city’s Franchise Concession and Review Committee in September, will provide a 20-year operating agreement in which Emerald Green would pay the city the larger amount of either $1 million or 6 percent of gross receipts for the first year, with the terms gradually escalating to $1 million or 15 percent of gross receipts, whichever is more, said Phil Abramson, a spokesman for the Parks Department.
Tavern on the Green, designed and built in the second half of the 19th century, was originally called the Sheepfold because it housed 200 of the animals that grazed nearby. It was converted to a restaurant in 1934 by then-Parks Commissioner Robert Moses.
“It is one of the city’s finest examples of Victorian Gothic architecture and one of the park’s most treasured landmarked buildings,” the Parks and Recreation Department said in the release.
Operated by restaurateur Warner LeRoy and his family since 1974, Tavern on the Green filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009 after the city awarded the license to a higher bidder. In 2008, it was the second-highest-grossing restaurant in the U.S., with about $27 million in annual sales, according to Restaurants & Institutions magazine. Taos Las Vegas ranked first.
The restaurant, near the West 67th Street entrance to the 843-acre park, is familiar to tens of thousands of people as the site of the finish line of the New York City Marathon. The renovated Tavern will accommodate as many as 300 diners inside and 300 outdoors, city officials said.
Central Park attracts more than 40 million visitors a year, making it the most visited park in the U.S., the department said. Its popularity created a need for more services and amenities, and city officials decided to transform the Tavern on the Green from a venue for formal dining and catering to a focus on serving visitors and local residents, the department said.
The Parks Department is part of the administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, founder and majority owner of Bloomberg news parent Bloomberg LP.