Tavern on the Green

Tavern on the Green is an American cuisine restaurant in Central Park in Manhattan, New York City, near the intersection of Central Park West and West 66th Street on the Upper West Side. The restaurant, housed in a former sheepfold, has been operated by Jim Caiola and David Salama since 2014.

Tavern on the Green
Tavern on the Green cloudy jeh.JPG
Main entrance of Tavern on the Green, November 2008
Restaurant information
EstablishedOctober 1934
Owner(s)Jim C Davis
Head chefTomasz Surowka
Street addressnear Central Park West and West 66th Street
CityNew York (Upper West Side, Manhattan)
StateNew York
Postal/ZIP Code10023
CountryUnited States
Coordinates40°46′20″N 73°58′40″W / 40.7723°N 73.9778°W / 40.7723; -73.9778Coordinates: 40°46′20″N 73°58′40″W / 40.7723°N 73.9778°W / 40.7723; -73.9778
Other informationopen:
Notable buildings and structures of Central Park. Click on the map and then on the points for details.

From its opening in 1934 to its closure in 2009, the restaurant changed ownership several times. From 2010 until 2012, the building was used as a public visitor center and gift shop run by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. After a multimillion-dollar renovation, Caiola and Salama reopened Tavern on the Green to the public on April 24, 2014.

Throughout its history, Tavern on the Green has been frequented by prominent actors, musicians, politicians, and writers. It has also received several awards, including those for the best restaurant in the Upper West Side, and the best wine menu.


Original sheepfold and barn, 1899

The building housing the restaurant was originally the sheepfold that housed the sheep that grazed Sheep Meadow, built in 1870 based on a design by Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mould.[1]: 52 [2]: 60  The sheep were evicted from the sheepfold in 1934 under New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (NYC Parks) commissioner Robert Moses.[3]: 984 [4][1]: 106–109 

1930s to 1970sEdit

From 1934, the restaurant was managed by restaurateurs licensed by NYC Parks. In 1943, Arnold Schleifer and his nephews, Arthur Schleifer and Julius Berman, won the contract to operate the restaurant. The owners enlarged the dance floor and offered nightly music. A large outdoor patio offered dining al fresco. Trees were first wrapped in the well-known twinkling lights around the property and the Elm Tree Room was built to surround one of the city's classic American elms. The menu was designed to be elegant but affordable for New Yorkers. Luncheon and dinner offerings changed regularly and Mr. Berman would often add special desserts to celebrate family events, such as "Parfait Ruth" to honor the birth of his granddaughter.

One of the more controversial projects proposed in Central Park during the mid-20th century was a 1956 dispute over a parking lot for Tavern on the Green. The controversy placed Moses, an urban planner known for displacing families for other large projects around the city, against a group of mothers who frequented a wooded hollow at the site of a parking lot.[5][6] Despite opposition from the parents, Moses approved the destruction of part of the hollow. Demolition work commenced after Central Park was closed for the night, and was only halted after a threat of a lawsuit.[5][7]

In 1962 Joe Baum's Restaurant Associates purchased the Schleifer-Berman interest in the Tavern's operation.[8]

In 1974 Warner LeRoy took over the restaurant's lease and reopened it in 1976 after $10 million in renovations, including the addition of a glass-enclosed Crystal Room overlooking the restaurant's garden[9] (one of several dining rooms), which doubled the seating capacity to 800. According to New York City officials it was illegal, but the city, wanting the restaurant expanded at a time when the city was having its own financial problems, did not stop the expansion.[10] From LeRoy's death in 2001 until the restaurant's renovation in 2009, Tavern on the Green was managed by LeRoy's daughter, Jennifer Oz LeRoy.[11]

1980s to 2000s: issues and rebirthEdit

In July 1983, a dozen youths leaving a nearby concert robbed patrons and stole a cash register.[12]

Tavern on the Green is next to the finish line of the New York City Marathon. The Barilla Marathon Eve Dinner, a pre-race pasta party on the eve of the marathon for 10,000 guests (including registrants, who attend for free), took place at the Tavern in 2005.[13]

By 2007, the restaurant had gross revenues of $38 million, from more than 500,000 visitors. This made it the second-highest-grossing independent restaurant in the United States (behind The Venetian's Tao restaurant in Las Vegas, at $67 million).[14][15]

In June 2008, Tavern on the Green agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle a sexual and racial discrimination lawsuit over claims by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of "pervasive harassment" of women and minority employees.[16]

2009–2014: closure and reuseEdit

On August 28, 2009, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation announced that it had declined to renew the restaurant's license, granting it instead to Dean Poll, operator of the Central Park Boathouse. The LeRoy management was required to cease operations and remove all furnishings from the location before January 1, 2010.[17] Tavern on the Green had its last seating on December 31, 2009. It auctioned off its interior decorations and closed its doors.[18] Central Park Boathouse operator Dean Poll was given rights to reopen the restaurant but could not reach an agreement with the Hotel and Motel Trades Council, affiliated with the AFL–CIO, which represents the employees of the restaurant.

In September 2009, the restaurant filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, citing the Great Recession and the loss of the restaurant's operating license.[19] The rights to the name of the restaurant became a source of contention between the LeRoys and the city during the bankruptcy court procedures in October 2009, after the LeRoys claimed the trademark was theirs while the city challenged them.[20] At the time the trademark was appraised at $19 million.[20] In November 2009, Poll registered a backup name with New York State: "Tavern in the Park."[21] In March 2010, Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum ruled that the trade name was owned by the City of New York and that Warner LeRoy had trademarked the name fraudulently in 1981. She wrote: "Because the undisputed facts show that the city established and continuously maintained a restaurant under the name 'Tavern on the Green' at the same location in New York's Central Park since 1934, the city has a protectable interest in that name."[22][23][24][25]

Tavern on the Green patio after reopening, December 2010

On October 15, 2010, the city re-opened the building as a visitors information center with a gift shop selling city-themed T-shirts, hats and other memorabilia.[26] Street vendors sold food outside. The glass-enclosed Crystal Room was removed in 2010,[27] exposing the original 19th-century architecture.[28]

In January 2011, real estate developer Donald Trump said he obtained an agreement from the union employees and that he would invest $20 million in the restaurant, including rebuilding the Crystal Room, if he were granted a 20-year lease. He said he would keep the Tavern on the Green name. "I don't think every place needs to be called Trump," he joked.[29] Trump had renovated Wollman Rink in the 1980s after the city had been unable to repair and reopen it for several years.[30][31] Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Central Park Conservancy officials did not respond to Trump's proposal.

Later in 2011, the street vendors stationed in Tavern on the Green's courtyard were given notice that their operating contracts would not be renewed. After food truck operators left the site, construction, "basic stabilization and renovation work" according to the city, began on the building.[32] In February 2012, the city hosted a walk around for potential operators of a new Tavern on the Green. The new restaurant was presented as a more casual restaurant than its predecessor and would be housed in a renovated building which reflected its initial design as a sheepfold. There would be no hanging lights in the trees and the restaurant would close at 1:00 am, at the same time the park closes.[33]

2014–present: reopeningEdit

In April 2014, the new owners announced that Tavern on the Green would reopen for dinner on April 24, 2014, followed by a grand opening on May 13, 2014, after which the restaurant began also serving brunch and lunch. Jim Caiola, one of the new managing partners, stated that the tavern's new interior would be more reminiscent of "old New York" than more recent incarnations, featuring dark wood paneling and a more open, bucolic feel.[34] The new owners secured the restaurant location rent-free from the city until 2019.[35]

In the wake of reopening, the restaurant cycled through head chefs. Katy Sparks was head chef at reopening. She was replaced by celebrity chef Jeremiah Tower after half a year. This was Tower's first restaurant in 15 years, since he closed his Stars restaurant in San Francisco and retired. Half a year later, Tower left to be replaced by John Stevenson, who survived a year. Stevenson was then replaced by Bill Peet in 2016.[36][35][37]


Where magazine named Tavern on the Green the best restaurant in the Upper West Side in 2006; it had also been awarded "best ambience" of any New York City restaurant four years earlier. In 2003 and 2004, Wine Spectator named the restaurant's wine list its "Best Award of Excellence."[38]

Notable visitorsEdit

Tavern on the Green was frequented by prominent actors, musicians, politicians. and writers. Regular patrons have included former New York City Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia, actresses Grace Kelly and Fay Wray and many others.[39] Tavern on the Green hosted the wedding receptions of several prominent Americans, including one of the seven marriages of author Robert Olen Butler[40] (later divorced) and film director Walter Hill.[41] John Lennon and his son Sean Lennon celebrated numerous birthdays at Tavern on the Green during the late 1970s.[42] In 1987 the tavern was the site of a star-studded memorial dinner for director-choreographer Bob Fosse.[43]

In popular cultureEdit

Tavern on the Green made an appearance in Hair (1979), It's My Turn (1980), and Ghostbusters (1984), when the character Louis Tully (Rick Moranis) was being chased by the demon Vinz Clortho. In the season 8 Seinfeld episode "The Susie,” George and his date (Kramer) attend a ball at Tavern on the Green hosted by George Steinbrenner. Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn, played a married couple, who were caught in a romantic embrace, just outside on the lawn in the 1999 remake of "The Out of Towners.” In addition, Tavern on the Green appears at the end of Wall Street (1987)[44] and features prominently in Mr. Popper's Penguins (2011). In the 1994 live action adaptation of The Flintstones, Fred, Wilma, and Betty, go to dinner at "Cavern on the Green.” It's discovered that Barney (Rick Moranis) is working there as a busboy, because he had lost his job at the rock quarry. The legendary restaurant is depicted in an episode of "Power Book III: Raising Kanan" (2021) as a 'date night spot' in the first season, executive produced by rapper 50 Cent. The urban time period drama piece from the 90s, shows a classic look at the restaurant during its height of popularity in the early 1990s before renovation.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Kinkead, Eugene (1990). Central Park, 1857-1995: The Birth, Decline, and Renewal of a National Treasure. New York: Norton. ISBN 0-393-02531-4.
  2. ^ Heckscher, Morrison H. (2008). Creating Central Park. Metropolitan Museum of Art. ISBN 978-0-30013-669-2.
  3. ^ Caro, Robert (1974). The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York. New York: Knopf. ISBN 978-0-394-48076-3. OCLC 834874.
  4. ^ "Central Park's Sheep Join the Fold in Prospect Park". The New York Times. March 18, 1934. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Kinkead 1990, pp. 110–111
  6. ^ Schumach, Murray (April 25, 1956). "PARKING LOT FOES ROUTED BY MOSES; Construction of Parking Lot Begun in Central Park". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
  7. ^ "COURT STOPS JOB IN CENTRAL PARK; Hearing on Parking Lot Due Today--Council Group to Seek Moses's Version". The New York Times. April 27, 1956. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
  8. ^ "Tavern-on-the-Green Sold". The New York Times. April 5, 1962. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
  9. ^ "Central Park: Play: Tavern on the Green". nyc24.org. 2005. Archived from the original on December 10, 2006. Retrieved December 10, 2006.
  10. ^ Cuozzo, Steve (January 31, 2011). "Tavern deal not Crystal Clear". New York Post. Retrieved February 1, 2011.
  11. ^ Yaniv, Oren (February 3, 2009). "Tavern on the Green in the red". Daily News. New York. Retrieved February 6, 2009.
  12. ^ "Youths attack concert fans"
  13. ^ "Barilla Hosts Marathon Eve Dinner". barillaus.com. December 6, 2006. Archived from the original on December 6, 2006.
  14. ^ "Special Report: Top 100 Independents". Restaurants & Institutions. Archived from the original on April 20, 2008.
  15. ^ Drape, Joe (July 22, 2007). "Setting Restaurant Records by Selling the Sizzle". The New York Times. Retrieved October 15, 2007.
  16. ^ Trotta, Daniel (June 2, 2008). "Famed NY tavern to pay $2.2 million for discrimination". Yahoo! News. reuters.
  17. ^ Collins, Glenn (September 16, 2009). "Why Did Tavern Fail?". The New York Times. p. D1. Retrieved September 17, 2009.
  18. ^ Collins, Glenn (December 8, 2009). "Lions and Tigers and Debt: Auctioning Off Tavern on the Green". The New York Times. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
  19. ^ Collins, Glenn (September 9, 2009). "Tavern on the Green Requesting Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection". The New York Times. Retrieved September 10, 2009.
  20. ^ a b Collins, Glenn (October 9, 2009). "City Wants Tavern's Trademark Name". The New York Times.
  21. ^ Fickenscher, Lisa (November 19, 2009). "Back-up name chosen for Tavern on the Green". Crain's New York Business.
  22. ^ Glovin, David; Jeffrey, Don (March 10, 2010). "N.Y. City Wins Right to 'Tavern on the Green' Name". BusinessWeek. Archived from the original on April 16, 2010. Retrieved June 30, 2010.
  23. ^ Collins, Glenn (March 10, 2010). "Judge Rules the City Owns the Name Tavern on the Green". The New York Times. Retrieved June 30, 2010.
  24. ^ Rubinstein, Dana (March 10, 2010). "City Beats LeRoys for 'Tavern on the Green' Name". The New York Observer. Archived from the original on March 14, 2010. Retrieved June 30, 2010.
  25. ^ Walder, Noeleen G. (March 11, 2010). "Court: Rights to Tavern on the Green Name Belong to New York City". New York Law Journal. Retrieved June 30, 2010.
  26. ^ "NY's Tavern on the Green reopens as visitor ctr."[permanent dead link], AP, October 15, 2010 (video)
  27. ^ "Tavern on the Green Replaced by Food Trucks". ABC News. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  28. ^ Staff (March 15, 2012). Ross Sandler; Frank Berlen; Peter Schikler (eds.). "Landmarks approved Tavern on the Green's renovations". City Land, New York Law School's Journal of Land Use Law. Retrieved August 11, 2014.
  29. ^ Gould, Jennifer (January 27, 2011). "Donald Trump to ask City to allow him to reopen Tavern on the Green". NYPOST.com. Retrieved February 1, 2011.
  30. ^ Freedlander, David (September 29, 2015). "A 1980s New York City Battle Explains Donald Trump's Candidacy". Bloomberg. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  31. ^ Kula, Irwin; Hatkoff, Craig (August 24, 2015). "Donald Trump And The Wollman Rinking of American Politics". Forbes. Retrieved February 12, 2019.
  32. ^ "The Return of Tavern on the Green?". September 26, 2011. Retrieved April 29, 2013.
  33. ^ "Who Will Operate Tavern on the Green?". July 1, 2012. Retrieved April 29, 2013.
  34. ^ Stebner, Beth (April 2, 2014). "Tavern on the Green to open April 24 for dinner; to add brunch, lunch in May". Daily News. Retrieved August 11, 2014. The Central Park mainstay that boarded up New Year's Eve 2009 is slated to reopen two weeks from now. 'There's zero garish about this version, and much more Old New York, says Jim Caiola, one of two managing partners for the property.
  35. ^ a b Morabito, Greg (April 5, 2016). "Tavern on the Green Chef Shuffle, Cafe Clover Spinoff, and More Intel". Eater, New York.
  36. ^ Fickenscher, Lisa (April 4, 2016). "Tavern on the Green hires fourth chef in two years". New York Post.
  37. ^ "Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent". Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. November 12, 2017. CNN.
  38. ^ "Awards and Accomplishments" at Tavern on the Green Website.
  39. ^ "There's No Place Like Tavern on the Green". Page Six Magazine. January 18, 2009. Archived from the original on January 18, 2009. Retrieved October 12, 2008.
  40. ^ Brady, Lois Smith (May 7, 1995). "WEDDINGS: VOWS; Robert O. Butler, Elizabeth Dewberry". The New York Times. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
  41. ^ "Hildy Gottlieb Is the Bride Of Walter Hill, a Director". The New York Times. September 8, 1986. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
  42. ^ "John Lennon and Yoko Ono celebrate his and Sean's birthdays". This Day in Rock. October 9, 1979.
  43. ^ Barron, James (December 20, 1987). "FOLLOW-UP ON THE NEWS; Fosse's Present Is Show-Stopper". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 30, 2021.
  44. ^ "Central Park Walking Tour". On Location Tours. Retrieved May 2, 2019.

Further readingEdit

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