Few restaurant closings in New York City generated nearly as much buzz as Tavern on the Green's in 2009. What the food lacked in flavor was more than compensated by the over-the-top ambiance and surrounding greenery of Central Park. Since the restaurant folded, the space has been used as a tourist center.
And now, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe has announced that the City is prepared to award a 20-year license term to the Emerald Green Group for the operation and maintenance of a "high-quality casual restaurant and outdoor café" at Tavern on the Green. The Emerald Green Group principals, Jim Caiola and David Salama, have operated Beau Monde and L'Etage in Philadelphia for over a decade. Katy Sparks, their executive chef for Tavern on the Green, has extensive NYC experience including The Quilted Giraffe, Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill and Bolo, and Quilty’s in Soho where she was chosen as a “Top Ten Best New Chef in America” by Food & Wine Magazine.
The Emerald Green Group submitted the highest rated proposal in response to a Request for Proposals, the City’s process for selecting a concessionaire. They provided a detailed operational plan for Tavern on the Green as a "high-quality accessible venue" with a locally sourced menu and a focus on the park.
We hear the new restaurant will include outdoor seating for 200 to 300 patrons as well as take-out service. (For the record: The building, which is just west of the Park's Sheep Meadow, was once the barn where the sheep were kept in the 19th century. The former "sheepfold" became a restaurant in 1934. Mirrors and chandeliers can make all the difference. See the historic photo above.) The City is performing significant structural and exterior work, allowing the Emerald Green Group the opportunity to focus on building out the interior to meet their specifications. Subject to the successful completion of contract negotiations and other required review and approvals, and the completion of the building’s restoration work, Tavern on the Green is anticipated to reopen in the Fall of 2013.
The restaurant is located in Central Park just west of the Sheep Meadow near 67th Street.