After being an iconic New York City fine-dining establishment for years, and then having its doors shuttered for major renovations by the city, Tavern on the Green is finally scheduled to reopen on April 24th and add a whole new flare for its Upper West Side neighborhood.
This Central Park restaurant, which first opened in the 1930s, has been undergoing a series of renovations on its 21,500-square-foot space at the hands of its restaurateurs and the city’s Department of Design and Construction to the tune of $20 million—mostly to return it to its more classic façade.
Over the past four years, the building was stripped down to its original structure, exposing its full potential, and became a sort of blank slate for Jim Caiola and David Salama, its creative managers. They won a city contest that determined who would operate the new Tavern and then fine-tuned the restaurant’s interiors by shrinking it down to 11,000 square feet and making it more of a neighborhood place as opposed to a tourist hangout and celebrity special-event hall. With this more laid-back approach, they will dedicate only a back room to special occasions and proudly incorporate the addition of a takeout window called “Green-to-Go.”
“People will show up no matter what we serve because of this incredible corner (location),” Caiola told the Daily News. “But we wanted to make it a place they actually want to come to. We’re aiming for repeat business instead of special occasions.” He even mentioned that he wanted it to be more like the area’s go-to spot for eating, “I want Upper West Siders to use it as their restaurant.”
The food has changed as well, straying far from its previous Italian fare, which was highly jeered, and instead adopting a new locally grown inspired menu filled with duck dishes, Japanese eggplant with Pomegranate, sheep-milk yogurt, and plenty more. The menu is reminiscent of a farmers market and accompanies its new restored farmhouse appearance—plus, there is plenty of outdoor seating with its 300-seat courtyard and 110-seat garden. “It’s not fancy food, but it’s very carefully put together,” says executive chef Katy Sparks. “It’s meant to be an everyday experience.”