The New Tavern on the Green

When Tavern on the Green ended a three-decade era of glitz and glamour by shuttering its doors on January 1, 2010, it left open the burning question about what the space would be next. This week we got our answer as the City of New York Parks and Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe announced the next keeper of the green will the Emerald Green Group. According to the statement released by the Parks Department, the new restaurant will be “an attractive high-quality accessible venue with a locally-sourced menu and a focus on the park. It will include outdoor seating for 200 to 300 patrons as well as take-out service.”

The folks behind the Emerald Green Group are Jim Caiola and David Salama, who ran Beau Monde in Philadelphia for over a decade. They bring chef and culinary consultant Katy Sparks to the table, who previously worked at the famous The Quilted Giraffe, Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill, and now closed Quilty’s, which was the catalyst for her winning a spot in Food and Wine Magazine’s Top Ten Best New Chef in America.

Designed by Calvert Vaux and Wrey Mould in the latter half of the 19th century, the original Victorian Gothic building was turned into a restaurant in 1934.  It’s carried the name Tavern on the Green since then, and for the last 30 years it was run by the LeRoy family. Under that group, it became on of the top-grossing independent restaurants in the city. Ironically, the LeRoys filled for bankruptcy 15 months before it closed, which might have been a big reason the Parks Department didn’t renew their lease. Now, the Emerald Green Group is giving the iconic spot a different vibe and plans to make it less formal and allowing more of a walk-up feeling.

When asked about his new project, co-owner Jim Caiola told the Parks Department, “Tavern on the Green is one of the most amazing places in the world. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of it? When I lived in New York in the early 80’s, whenever I had a milestone in my life I took myself to Tavern on the Green. I’d look around and feel the magic of celebration, and I knew that one day I would be back.”

Now, we just have to wait another year until fall 2013 when they project it will open again. 

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