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It's not easy being GREEN

  

    Last Sunday was my mother in laws birthday and she desperately wanted to eat at Tavern on the Green.I had never eaten a meal at the Tavern, so I said what the heck……………………..What I can say is this……the lease expires at the end of the year and you can feel it.Waiters have been working the same jobs for years and the whole joint feels like it needs a major tummy tuck, face lift, lipo suction and possibly a nose job.

I know that the restaurant was cutting edge (I think) a long time ago, but it just feels like no one is running the ship. Here are some of the potential bidders for the Tavern.

  

NOT EASY BEING GREEN

END OF TAVERN ON GREEN LEASE

 WHETS APPETITES

NYC landmark Tavern on the Green’s 800-plus seats are spread out among numerous dining rooms, including the Crystal Room.
NYC landmark Tavern on the Green’s 800-plus seats are spread out among numerous dining rooms, including the Crystal Room.
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By STEVE CUOZZO

January 16, 2008 -- GRAMERCY Tavern on the Green?

Nobu Central Park?

With Tavern on the Green's lease up at the end of the year, it's fun to dream about how much better the place might be under an owner other than Jennifer LeRoy, who has run the cyclopean eatery since her dad, Warner LeRoy, died in 2001.

Fun - but maybe delusional. The brick-and-crystal palace in Central Park has enough built-in liabilities to scare off the most dauntless restaurateur. Still, the names of supposed suitors keep coming.

Depending on what you read, they now include Danny Meyer (Gramercy Tavern), Peter and Penny Glazier (Strip House), Nick Valenti (Sea Grill), Smith & Wollensky founder Alan Stillman, the Cipriani organization, Dean Poll (The Boathouse), Drew Nieporent (Nobu) and even Donald Trump - who told me last year that Tavern has “suffered greatly" in recent years, yet declined to say exactly what was wrong.

How fabulous it would be, many believe, if the magnificent Central Park setting's food and service sparkled like the lights that turn Tavern's trees and gardens into a year-round wonderland!

“I could really fill that place," Poll gushed to Gael Greene on her site insatiable-critic.com.

Well, if you want really crummy food in Central Park, look no farther than Poll's own Boathouse. Yes, Tavern on the Green certainly might be better. But what makes it unlikely ever to be culinary nirvana are three irreducible realities:

n Tavern's 800-odd seats (not including banquet rooms) are more than twice as many as in any other place in town - a volume that laughs at the ideal of consistently grand cuisine.

n It's a union shop with most of 470-plus employees covered by infamously difficult Local 6.

n Much of the building is 130 years old, and its exterior is a protected part of the landmark that is Central Park - meaning a leaky roof can't be patched without the blessing of the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission.

With those ground rules, it will be interesting to see how much dough smooth-talking restaurant kings actually put up in response to the Parks Department's request for proposals.

Tavern on the Green - the highest-grossing restaurant in the US with nearly $40 million in annual revenue - suffers a grim reputation among many New Yorkers.

Even the see-no-evil Zagat Survey calls it “more spectacle than restaurant" and socks it with a food rating of 15 on a scale of 30.

Have you seen these yet?

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