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Reimagined Tavern on the Green Set to Open in Central Park

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TWC News: Reimagined Tavern on the Green Set to Open in Central Park
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Tavern on the Green, a landmark in Central Park, will be serving customers again later this week after years of uncertainty. NY1's Jon Weinstein filed the following report.

They're finishing up the outside, cleaning up the tables inside and testing out the kitchen one final time. After more than four years, a reimagined Tavern on the Green will open in Central Park.

"Casual, elegant, simple, accessible, delicious, friendly, open," said co-owner David Salama.

The landmark space closed on New Year's Day 2010, beset by financial problems, but the Department of Parks and Recreation had to go to court to get the previous owners to give up the famous name. It then awarded the space to two restaurateurs, from Philadelphia, of all places.

The re-designed, modernized and smaller Tavern on the Green will serve its first meal on Thursday night. The space is now 12,000 square feet, about one-third of the size it used to be. The inside looks drastically different, but the owners said it reflects and respects the Victorian architecture of the original restaurant.

"We wanted it to look like we polished up the 1934 version," said co-owner Jim Caiola.

"The feeling we wanted overall is that it had always been here," Salama said.

Tavern on the Green was a major event space, but now, it will be much more of a restaurant. It will include 350 seats inside and, eventually, a new 350-person seating area outside.

Brunch starts on May 10. They will be serving lunch or brunch and dinner seven days a week.

"Very good ingredients, locally sourced, smartly sourced," Salama said.

Executive Chef Katy Sparks designed the menu. She said New Yorkers can expect simple offerings that reflects the restaurant's park surroundings.

Diners will be able to see into the open kitchen. The owners said they want the focus of the new restaurant to be on the food.

"The emphasis is on the ingredient, and then simply treated with lots of care, staying attached to the seasons and just let the food speak for itself," Sparks said.

There will also be a "to go" window, where people in the park can just walk up and get pre-packaged food that's made in the Tavern on the Green kitchen. That is scheduled to open on May 13, which is when lunch service is expected to start as well.

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