In 2009, the legendary Central Park restaurant Tavern on the Green closed, after almost 75 years in business. It was built in the 1930s by that grandaddy of New York City building, Robert Moses, and over the decades had become a bridge-and-tunnel destination and tourist trap. It was also a popular place for private events. For years, it was the highest-grossing non-chain restaurant in America.
And it still went out of businesss!
Like many places, it was a victim of the financial crises. Bad food and high prices and poor management sealed its fate. The Warner family, which had run it for decades, lost their lease and then restaurateur Dean Poll took it over and then walked away when he couldn't make a deal with the kitchen workers union. Since then, the big restaurant on Central Park West has sat empty, populated with food trucks out front. It was a modern-day relic, a burgeoning ruin in its own time. To say you had once eaten at Tavern on the Green was almost becoming like saying you had once gone to Woodstock (although not as cool).
Well, it's back. Two guys from Philadelphia have taken it over and plan to re-open it in December. The new Tavern will be half the size of the old one with less cheesy glitzy interior design. How good the food will be remains to be seen.
Some New York restaurant types predict it will fail. It's not haute cuisine but it's also not down-home cooking. It's sorta middle of the road. Also, it's not exactly a place for the hip foody crowd in this city and knows if it will pack-in enough tourists and B&Ters to make up its high overhead. But I wouldn't be surprised if it succeeds -- after all, it's a legendary place and has one of the best locations for any business in NYC.
I doubt I'll go there myself anytime soon but, as the new owners said, it'll be a great place to take your grandmother for her 90th birthday so who knows?
P.S. I went to the old Tavern once back in the 1990s for my high school prom. Not all that memorable. I'm sure the new version will be better.