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Press Releases

Thursday, April 24, 2014
No. 12

Tavern On The Green Reopens To The Public

Photo by Daniel Avila / NYC Parks

Restoration Project Fully Renovates Building, Restoring Footprint to Original 1930s Size and Restoring Historic Architecture

New Operators to Serve Contemporary American Cuisine with Global Influences Serving All New Yorkers and Park Visitors

NYC Parks First Deputy Commissioner Liam Kavanagh, NYC Department of Design and Construction Commissioner Dr. Feniosky Peña-Mora, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, State Senator Jose Serrano, Central Park Conservancy President Douglas Blonsky, restaurateurs Jim Caiola and David Salama, and executive chef Katy Sparks, today cut the ribbon on the newly restored Tavern on the Green. The restaurant opens to the public during the evening of April 24 for dinner service. Tavern on the Green is located in Central Park just west of the Sheep Meadow near 67th Street. Also in attendance were NYC Parks Deputy Commissioner Robert Garafola, NYC DDC Deputy Commissioner David Reznick, NYC Department of Small Business Services Deputy Commissioner Robinson Hernandez, Community Board 5 District Manager Wally Rubin, Community Board 7 Chair Elizabeth Caputo, Community Board 7 District Manager Penny Ryan, and Community Board 8 District Manager Latha Thompson.

The City of New York, through work done by NYC Parks and the NYC Department of Design & Construction, fully renovated the building envelope along with substantial infrastructure improvements, working with the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission and the NYC Public Design Commission. Designed by the architectural firm of Swanke Hayden Connell, the project restored the footprint to its original 1930s size and restored certain historic facades of the building including its Victorian Gothic architecture. The Department of Small Business Services’ Business Acceleration division helped coordinate and streamline the regulatory process, expediting the building's opening.

“We are pleased to open the doors to the newly restored Tavern on the Green,” said NYC Parks First Deputy Commissioner Liam Kavanagh. “Under the stewardship of restaurateurs Jim Caiola and David Salama, and executive chef Katy Sparks, Tavern will be a welcoming destination for the millions of visitors to Central Park. In addition to a delicious locally-sourced menu, visitors to Tavern will experience an incredible ambiance that enjoys a synergy with its park surroundings. Special thanks to the NYC Department of Design and Construction for partnering with us to fully restore this architectural treasure."

“Today we’re returning to the people of New York an important part of our history," said NYC DDC Commissioner Dr. Feniosky Peña-Mora. "I’m happy to say that Tavern on the Green has never looked better. This project is an excellent example of environmentally-sustainable building practices: we adapted an old building for a new generation of patrons and made it energy-efficient. The City’s investment in this historic building will ensure that Tavern on the Green is a vital part of the City’s future, as well as its past.”

The new Tavern on the Green, with executive chef Katy Sparks at the helm, will serve Contemporary American cuisine with global influences offering a new take on a Park dining establishment serving all New Yorkers and visitors to Central Park.

Tavern on the Green is now operated by Jim Caiola and David Salama who have operated Beau Monde and L'Etage in Philadelphia, a popular and well-reviewed restaurant and bar, for over a decade. In 2012, they 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 includes outdoor seating as well as take-out service. Katy Sparks, the 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 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.

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.

“The new Tavern on the Green restaurant is an example of the Parks Department and Department of Design and Construction’s unprecedented accomplishments, in partnership with private businesses and non-profits," said Central Park Conservancy President Douglas Blonsky. "These partnerships have helped New Yorkers make the most of public resources, and we’re proud to be a part of the reopening of this iconic restaurant and thrilled to welcome Jim and David to the fold.”

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.


Press Contacts:

Arthur Pincus / Phil Abramson (NYC Parks) (212) 360-1311

Joe Soldevere (NYC Design & Construction) (718) 391-1641

Steven Hall, Hall Company (Tavern on the Green) (212) 684-1955

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