NEW YORK - New York City's Tavern on the Green, closed since the previous operators lost their lease and declared bankruptcy in 2009, reopens Thursday under new management. Here are five things to know about the once-grand restaurant in Central Park:
The Victorian Gothic structure was originally built in 1870 as a sheepfold for the flock that grazed in the Sheep Meadow. It became a restaurant in 1934 during a renovation undertaken by parks commissioner Robert Moses.
Hollywood scion Warner LeRoy took over the restaurant's lease in 1974 and turned it into a sprawling banquet hall that was one of the highest-grossing restaurants in the United States with revenues of $38 million in 2007. But it was hit hard by the 2008 financial downturn and the city Parks Department declined to renew its lease. The restaurant filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, served its last meal Dec. 31, 2009, and auctioned off its furnishings.
Movies including "Wall Street," "Ghostbusters" and "Mr. Popper's Penguins" have had scenes filmed in Tavern on the Green. In "Ghostbusters," a character played by Rick Moranis is chased by a monster and pounds on the restaurant's windows; the patrons ignore him.
Tavern on the Green is next to the finish line of the New York City Marathon, and for years the restaurant hosted a pasta dinner on the eve of the race.
In its heyday, Tavern on the Green was known for glitzy decor and boldface guests such as Grace Kelly and John Lennon but not for the food, which one Yelp reviewer compared to canned beef stew. The new menu, overseen by chef Katy Sparks, includes warm squid salad, braised lamb shank with fresh mint gremolata and heritage breed pork chop with roasted rhubarb and fennel.