Sunday, January 30, 2011

Donald on the Green?

Amongst the embarrassments that Mayor Bloomberg has had to deal with lately (the snowstorm debacle, Cathy Black, CityTime) is the fact that Tavern on the Green has been closed for over a year. After booting the Le Roy family in 2009 (which had run it since 1976), the city made a deal with Dean Poll to re-open the restaurant in 2010. Poll, however, failed to make a deal with the union representing the restaurant workers and so Tavern has been out of business. For now.

The city has turned the space that once housed Tavern into a visitor's center, and there are also vendors with food carts parked outside. It's unbelievable that a restaurant that used to pull in upwards of $40 million a year -- the highest grossing non-chain restaurant in the country -- is closed. It's an embarrassment to the city. It's absurd.

Enter Donald Trump. The real-estate mogul has said that he's made a deal with the restaurant union and is prepared to invest $20 million into a new Tavern on the Green. And he's ready to do it ASAP.

But for some strange reason, Mayor Bloomberg is hedging. He doesn't seem to want this deal to happen. For a man who's supposedly all about results and getting things done, Bloomberg is acting like quite the vacillator. Very weird.   

Now I'm not a huge fan of either Donald Trump or Tavern on the Green. Both the man and the restaurant are hopelessly tacky -- more interesting to tourists than to real New Yorkers. But it seems to me that if The Donald wants to re-open Tavern that he should be allowed to do so. After all, nobody else has been able to strike the necessary deal to re-open it ,and it's ridiculous that such a valuable asset -- and a part of the city's history -- is closed. If the sticking point was a deal with the unions -- which has now been resolved -- and someone has the cash and reputation credible enough to re-open it, then why not?

New York needs Tavern on the Green the same way Hollywood needs the Hollywood Sign. Tavern might be silly but, at the end of the day, it's a part of the New York spirit and it would be great if it could come back. 

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