Make no mistake about it: the old Tavern on the Green was cheesy, garish, over-the-top. The service and food were regularly criticized.
But the place made a ton of money. In fact, its owners said it was the highest-grossing restaurant in the country, with annual revenues of $34 million. And if you ever saw the tourists digging into the filet mignon there it wasn’t hard to believe.
In August 2009 the city ended up choosing a new restaurateur — Central Park Boathouse owner Dean Poll — to take over the restaurant from the LeRoy family that had run Tavern for more than 30 years. That decision, along with a labor dispute, forced the family to file for bankruptcy in 2009. Poll himself couldn’t come to terms with the union representing the Tavern workers, so the city turned it into a visitor’s center and a parking lot for food trucks.
This week, City Comptroller John Liu said that the city lost out on $2.2 million by letting the restaurant sit empty while the labor negotiations dragged on.
Frankly, turning Tavern (just off of Central Park West at 67th Street) into a visitor’s center was a little odd, and the food trucks were clearly not generating the same kind of revenue for the park as the old restaurant. So now the city is hoping to put a new restaurant in. Upper East Siders, represented by Community Board 8, want it to resemble the old Tavern on the Green — formal, upscale, white tablecloths. Upper West Siders, as represented by Community Board 7, want it to be downscale — open even to people who come in in sweatpants from a jog outside, as reported this week by DNAinfo.
Clearly, all the old stereotypes about Upper East Siders and Upper West Siders are holding up quite nicely.
In 99.9% of all cases, I would vote with the Upper West Side over the Upper East Side. But, although it might make me nauseous to say this, I kind of think the Upper East
Snobbers Siders are right. There are plenty of casual places to eat in the neighborhood and in the park, including a nice cafe near Sheep Meadow run by Le Pain Quotidien. Tavern on the Green has made tons of money for the park as a high-end eatery for decades. It’s time to start making money there again.
Bring on the white tablecloths!
Bring on the Tiffany lamps!
Bring on the weird gold cow’s heads they had at the old Tavern on the Green.
Let’s put the “Green” back in Tavern on the Green. Let’s feed those tourists filet mignon so tough their dentures fall out.
Am I wrong? Let us know your thoughts by voting in the poll below:
Photo of a hallway in the old Tavern by rufusowliebat via flickr.