[UPDATE BELOW] As the current owners of Tavern on the Green prepare to clear out and auction off everything inside the storied Central Park restaurant, it's still far from clear that the place will reopen any time soon under new management. Cantankerous Steve Cuozzo at the Post is alarmed that after all that effort expended by the city to find a new leaseholder for the 19th century sheepfold, it could very well go dark after the LeRoy family leaves. Dean Poll, the owner of Central Park's Boathouse restaurant, won the rights to negotiate the lease to the property, but he hasn't actually signed it yet. At least Cuozzo's not getting all emo about it or anything:
A grim, not implausible prospect is that there will be no Tavern by any name after Jan. 1—and Central Park will have an ugly black hole in its heart. Only direct, forceful intervention by Mayor Bloomberg might break the impasse, as he helped do at The Plaza hotel a few years ago. Letting Tavern turn dark for any length is unacceptable. It's hardly been a great restaurant, but an imperfect Tavern beats no Tavern at all.
Poll's transition into ownership of the second-highest-grossing eatery in America has been rocky in part because of heated labor disputes; many employees at Tavern belong to Local 6, which called Poll's offer "an insult." There's also the battle over the Tavern on the Green name, which the LeRoy family is fighting to retain so they can create a possible franchise elsewhere. In a surprisingly compelling Crain's profile on Jennifer Oz LeRoy, Tavern's COO Michael Desiderio said, "Maybe we'll open a Tavern on the Green hotel or a Tavern on the Green [restaurant] in Brooklyn."
UPDATE: A spokesperson for Dean Poll isn't pulling punches in this statement:
"Neither the City of New York nor Dean Poll could have anticipated the bankruptcy of the current operation immediately following the award of Tavern on the Green to Mr. Poll. That proceeding, which involves the liquidation of the LeRoy business operations, has seen the family and its 500 plus creditors trying to glean every dollar to repay outstanding debts to the detriment of the public and the workers who would prefer a seamless transition to new ownership.
"Dean Poll is currently working through the many issues attendant to taking over the facility in February while continuing to urge Local 6 Union leadership to furnish him with a written proposal of its own. Unfortunately, the union has yet to realize that its failure to negotiate in good faith will prove harmful to many of its members."