Thursday, January 27, 2011

Trump's Tavern On The Green Dream

"Having destroyed the old Tavern for no good reason, Bloomberg is now torn.

Letting Trump revive the place from the ashes would embarrass him, as Ed Koch was when Trump saved the Wollman Rink from City Hall's incompetence in the 1970s."

Tavern on the Green in 2008. (Photo: Andrew Henderson/The New York Times)

Donald Trump's plan to revive Tavern on the Green faces resistance from Mayor Bloomberg.

"I have a lukewarm interest in it, because it would require a tremendous amount of work and money," developer Donald Trump said in 2008. Apparently that has changed. On Wednesday Mr. Trump announced he had brokered a deal with restaurant union president - and Bloomberg third term backer when some other labor bosses didn't - Peter Ward. Mr. Trump, never reticent about his ambitions, said he would spend $20 million of his own money to rebuild Tavern and make it “the highest-grossing restaurant on the planet.’’

The mobile food trucks - when they show up - now occupy parts of the former Tavern on the Green site. Mayor Bloomberg rejected a $86 million dollar proposal by former Tavern owner Jennifer LeRoy - whose family had operated the iconic eatery since 1974 - that promised $30 million more than Dean Poll who was awarded the new concession despite past financial improprieties with another Central Park concession. The mobile food vendors bring in a few hundred thousand dollars annually to the City.

For years Mr. Trump has met with stiff resistance for his plan to build a $40 million, 1500, seat high-end restaurant and banquet/catering facility on State Parkland in Jones Beach. - Geoffrey Croft


Donald J. Trump and the head of the powerful union that represented the 400 workers at Tavern on the Green say they have come to an agreement that could revive the shuttered landmark restaurant that is now home to a food-truck court and a visitor center, according to the New York Times.

Mr. Trump, never reticent about his ambitions, said that if New York City granted him the license to run Tavern he would spend $20 million of his own money to rebuild it so it would be “the highest-grossing restaurant on the planet.’’ Neither he nor the union’s leader, Peter Ward, president of the Hotel and Motel Trades Council, would reveal specifics of the agreement. But Mr. Trump said “the contract allows me to offer the highest level of service and quality.”

Reaching a deal with Mr. Ward has been a crucial stumbling block to reopening the once-glittering restaurant after its previous operator, the LeRoy family, declared bankruptcy and closed it on New Year’s Day of last year. The city owns the restaurant in Central Park and had given the operating license to Dean J. Poll, operator of the Boathouse in the park. But Mr. Poll lost the right to run the restaurant after he failed to reach agreement with the union, a necessary condition for his license.

For the plans to go forward for a future “Trump on the Green,” the developer would have to get the New York City Parks Department to grant him the operating license. And yesterday, the city did not leap into Mr. Trump’s arms.

The parks department deferred to City Hall and Jason Post, a spokesman for the mayor, said, “The city is not ready to announce any future plans for Tavern on the Green and has not had any discussions with possible restaurant operators.”

Mr. Ward, who has signed hotel contracts with Mr. Trump for decades, said the five-year labor agreement “is a fair deal and gives him everything he needs to create a great new restaurant.”

The city’s original request for Tavern bidders had specified that the new operator come to agreement with the union, and Mayor Bloomberg cited the failure of Mr. Poll to do so as the reason for suspending the fruitless negotiations last May.

Mr. Ward said that his agreement with Mr. Trump allowed for the rehiring of former Tavern workers, some of whom have been unemployed since it closed. “It’s not only the workers — reopening Tavern would mean more money for the city. It would be a win-win situation.”

Mr. Trump said of his deal with the union that “the economic consequences of the union contract won’t be a consideration since the restaurant will be such a huge success.”

Inside Tavern on the Green.
"Nice doggy, cute little pooch," a terrified Rick Moranis says while trying to reason with a monster in front of Tavern's famed Crystal Room (above) in a memorable scene from Ghostbusters. He was looking for help from the well-healed and indifferent crowd. In August, the city tore down the Crystal Room, which was built in the mid-1970s by Warner LeRoy when he took over the restaurant. The City erected an eight-foot-high fence to keep prying eyes away. A city source told A Walk In The Park that Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor Patti Harris personally toured the site and were responsible for making the decision to tear down the Crystal Room.

The 350-seat Crystal Room alone brought Tavern on the Green more than $6 million a year, according to Ms. LeRoy.

Read More:

New York Times - January 26, 2011 - By Glenn Collins

New York Post - January 28, 2011 - Steve Cuozzo

A Walk In The Park - October 15, 2010 - By Geoffrey Croft

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