What do you do with a problem like Tavern on the Green? The critically-reviled but beloved-to-tourist restaurant in Central Park, has been closed for over two years ago, and the Parks Department tried to put a restaurant there, but only managed to turn the building into a visitors center with food trucks in the courtyard. Now, the food trucks are out, and the Parks Department says they are looking for a "high quality casual restaurant and outdoor café" which has community members freaked out.
DNAinfo was at a Community Board 8 meeting where the Parks Department said they were looking for "high quality casual" dining bids, and one member was aghast at the prospect, "My family didn’t go there for the food. They went there for the experience. Why would you want to stray from a model that was successful and go to something casual, which can find all over the park?" Yeah, just give people crappy food in the old Tavern on the Green and everyone will be happy!
Tavern was the #2 highest- grossing
restaurant in American in 2008, but Parks Department Director of Concessions Charles Kloth explained that there was high overhead as well that ate into profitability. With a casual restaurant concept, there would be more flexibility (like having a tapas bar in one area) for culinary and financial options. Another bombshell: No Crystal Room, the gaudy (yet magical) space removed after the restaurant closed— Donald Trump had said he'd be interested in running a restaurant with the Crystal Room back.
Another member suggested the Parks Department eliminate "casual" from any RFP, lest a "casual dining" operation (these kinds of restaurant are "casual dining") get the wrong idea. The Parks Department said it would consider that—and the RFPs would be going out shortly. Watchdog group NYC Parks Advocates's Geoffrey Croft told Diners Journal that the Parks Dept.'s about-face seemed "pretty sketchy... But the city has lost millions since Tavern has gone dark. There should have been a restaurant there."