As 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern reported, people from the area were checking out the menu posted out front on Wednesday, happy to see that the restaurant really is coming back.
“With my wife and family we’ve had events here in the past that were really meaningful to me, and I was sorry to see it close. I can’t wait for it to open,” Jack said.
The Victorian Gothic structure was originally built in 1870 as a sheepfold for the flock that grazed in the Sheep Meadow. It became a restaurant in 1934 during a renovation undertaken by parks commissioner Robert Moses.
Hollywood scion Warner LeRoy took over the restaurant’s lease in 1974 and turned it into a sprawling banquet hall that was one of the highest-grossing restaurants in the United States with revenues of $38 million in 2007.
But it was hit hard by the 2008 financial downturn and the city Parks Department declined to renew its lease.
The restaurant filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, served its last meal on Dec. 31, 2009, and auctioned off its furnishings.
Five years after falling on hard times the Tavern on the Green has been restored to its 1930’s glamour.
“I walked inside when they were renovating it and it’s unbelievable,” another passerby said.
In its heyday, Tavern on the Green was known for glitzy decor and boldface guests such as Grace Kelly and John Lennon but not for the food, which one Yelp reviewer compared to canned beef stew.
The new menu, overseen by chef Katy Sparks, includes warm squid salad, braised lamb shank with fresh mint gremolata and heritage breed pork chop with roasted rhubarb and fennel.
And while the food wasn’t considered the best cuisine in the city, Tavern On The Green was certainly missed by many, Stern reported.
“It is part of the park, it is part of the joy of being in the park,” one woman said.
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