Design of the entrance to Tavern on the Green’s courtyard by Avoid Obvious.

By Shannon Ayala

Tavern on the Green is getting a big makeover as it prepares to open later this year. But figuring out how to make the historic upscale restaurant into a more mid-priced neighborhood spot is already proving complicated. The Central Park Conservancy and landscape architects presented plans for the restaurant to a Community Board 7 committee on Monday night, and the reviews were mixed.

It’s still months before the menu will be up for discussion, so in the meantime the question is how accessible will the new version of Tavern appear to the public.

“We really have radically changed the way the concession relates to the park,” said Chris Nolan, vice president of planning for the Central Park Conservancy. The designers, in fact, are looking to make Tavern appear like it did 80 years ago.

There will be a courtyard open to the bridle path and even the pavement will resemble the original diamond-shaped pattern. The awning will be restored to its original bright red too.

There are other new elements, such as a new logo, which will be hand painted, and lighting designed to “look and feel like dappled moonlight,” Robin Key, a landscape architect for operator Emerald Green Group, said.

Unlike the upscale, glittering Tavern of the recent past, the new restaurant is being designed to appear inviting to average park goers. It’s not clear if the architects are achieving that goal, however.

There’s going to be a takeout window and an outdoor eating area with more than a hundred seats, but Community Board 7 members found the space practically hidden. “You’re going to be invited, kind of left around the corner,” said Mark Diller, chair of the board, to sum up what colleagues were saying.

Nolan, of the Conservancy, said that there would be signs that would make access to the courtyard intuitive.

In addition to that, board members found that the planned trees seemed to infringe on the openness of the design. “It reads as an obstacle, not as an invitation,” said Diller.

Another obstacle the architects have is the view from above on Central Park West. “While it is much better than it was, I still have to look at dumpsters and I still have to look at mechanicals,” said resident Steve Farinelli. He said tree coverage should block it, but it doesn’t. “There really is no canopy for most of the year,” he said.

In response, Nolan said, “As it becomes an operational reality we’ll look for opportunities the best we can.”

For all of our Tavern coverage, click here.

Shannon Ayala covers the Upper West Side for the NYCity News Service as part of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

Photo of a slide showing the courtyard by Shannon Ayala.

FOOD, NEWS | 7 comments | permalink
    1. It’s “bridle path,” not “bridal.” We’re talkng about horses here, not ladies in white.

    2. Robert Quinlan says:

      Tavern on the Green should be a Beer Hall and Garden, selling only tap beer from the 23 new local micro breweries. This is how homage can be paid to the City’s traditional past when regional breweries operated all through Manhattan and Brooklyn. And German beer gartens proliferated. In addition to the Tavern’s reuse being more authentic it will be more egalitarian, and a major tourist attraction to boot. The ones in Munich are children friendly as Manhattan’s only one can be.

    3. margaret says:

      um – it’s bridle path, unless it’s going to be all about weddings …

    4. Scooter Stan says:

      Re: headline question “Will ‘Regular People’ Eat Here?”

      Well, probably, and possibly REGULARLY … but only if they do not have to deal with …Irregular People ? ! ?


      CPW resident’s “I still have to look at dumpsters and I still have to look at mechanicals,””

      QUEL HORREUR !! MEIN GOTT ! Having to look at Dumpsters from a multi-million-dollar apartment. Surely this is the latest example of TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It).