City Selects New Operator For Tavern On The Green
The City of New Y ork is prepared to award a 20-year license term to the Emerald Green Group for the operation and maintenance of a high-quality casual restaurant and outdoor café at Tavern on the Green located in Central Park just west of the Sheep Meadow near 67th Street.
The Emerald Green Group principals, Jim Caiola and David Salama, have operated Beau Monde and L'Etage in Philadelphia, a popular and well-reviewed restaurant & bar, for over a decade. Katy Sparks, their executive chef for Tavern on the Green, has extensive NYC experience including The Quilted Giraffe, Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill and Bolo, and Quilty’s in Soho where she earned many accolades including being chosen as a “Top Ten Best New Chef in America” by Food & Wine Magazine.
The Emerald Green Group submitted the highest rated proposal in response to a Request for Proposals, the City’s process for selecting a concessionaire. They provided a detailed operational plan for Tavern on the Green as an attractive high-quality accessible venue with a locally-sourced menu and a focus on the park. It will include outdoor seating for 200-300 patrons as well as take-out service. Subject to the successful completion of contract negotiations and other required review and approvals, and the completion of the building’s restoration work, Tavern on the Green is anticipated to reopen in the Fall of 2013. The Emerald Green Group has also signed a letter of agreement with the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council, AFL-CIO, which provides the terms under which union representation and bargaining will be addressed.
The Central Park Conservancy has invested more than $600 million to enhance, repair and maintain the Park’s 843 acres, attracting more than 40 million visitors annually and making it the most visited park in the United States. The tremendous popularity of Central Park has created a need for more services and amenities for the park user. The City felt the time was right for a fresh take on a dining establishment with a focus on serving visitors to the park and the surrounding community in a historic building, rather than formal dining and catering. The new Tavern on the Green is envisioned as a neighborhood destination that will act in harmony with its natural park environs.
In 2006, Katy Sparks established Katy Sparks Culinary Consulting, which grew into a business of bringing local sustainable and seasonal cuisine to businesses. Katy said, “The timing is perfect, Tavern on the Green is an offer that one just doesn’t refuse. It’s the one project I can think of that would lure me into leading a kitchen again.”
At Tavern on the Green, the Emerald Green Group will develop a casual restaurant and bar, and outdoor café, that will honor the original design intent of the Olmsted and Vaux park plan and exist in harmony with its naturalistic park setting. The building is currently being restored by the City to a smaller, more historic footprint. The City is performing significant structural and exterior work, allowing the Emerald Green Group the opportunity to focus on building out the interior to meet their specifications.
Central Park is one of the most popular destinations in New York City and the most visited park in the world. It is a recreational and economic hub of activity for New York City’s millions of residents and visitors. In addition to ballfields, gardens, lakes, bicycling and running paths, outdoor performance venues, tennis courts, ice skating rinks, a zoo and carousel, Central Park hosts dozens of dining options, from pushcarts to cafes and restaurants.
Tavern on the Green, originally known as the Sheepfold in Central Park, was designed by Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mould and constructed in the latter half of the 19th century. It is one of the city’s finest examples of Victorian Gothic architecture and one of the park’s most treasured landmarked buildings. The preliminary sketch for the building was published in the First Annual Report of the Department of Public Parks of 1871. Sixty years later, Parks Commissioner Robert Moses converted the Sheepfold (which actually housed 200 sheep that grazed across the street) into a restaurant named Tavern on the Green, which opened to the public on October 20, 1934.
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