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Warner LeRoy's Tavern on the Green


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Source: Tavern on the Green




Warner LeRoy walked into Tavern on the Green one day in 1974 and fell in love. He vowed to transform the restaurant into a place for celebrations of all kinds, and for all kinds of people. “It will feel like you’re sitting inside a wedding cake,” he declared. Two years later, in 1976, Warner’s Tavern opened; since that day, New Yorkers and visitors from all over the world have come to dine beneath the sparkling chandeliers and dance under the lanterns in the garden.


Over five hundred employees, some of whom have been at the restaurant since day one, work together to serve the more than half a million guests who visit us each year. Many New Yorkers would not think of celebrating a birthday, a graduation, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Mothers Day or Easter anywhere but at Tavern on the Green. Each Valentine’s Day, more than twenty bachelors come to dinner with engagement rings in their pockets. Brides tell us on their wedding day that they have dreamed of getting married at Tavern on the Green since they were little girls. Tavern hosts over 20,000 New York City Marathon runners on the eve of the race, and the restaurant is recognized as the finish line of the world’s most famous marathon.


Tavern’s lease with the City of New York Department of Parks and Recreation expires on December 31st, 2009. The LeRoy family, who have devoted their lives to the excellence of the restaurant, feel they have earned the honor of maintaining the lease. They are dedicated not only to carrying forward the legacy of Warner, who died in 2001, but to preserving and enhancing Tavern, a treasured landmark. Under the LeRoys’ expert care, Tavern will flourish as restaurant known to combine up-to-date and eco-friendly methods, while paying tribute to a celebrated history.


They are proud of the support expressed by hundreds of New Yorkers and visitors who salute Tavern as one of the essential elements of New York, as acclaimed as The Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty.







I have never been to Tavern on the Green but want to make plans to go this summer. Even 30+ years later, you can still see Warner's trademark style in the various dining rooms. I can't help but think that some of these rooms would have been individual themed restaurants had the original Great Adventure proposal been built as planned.


This one hints at Gingerbread Fancy:



Click HERE for more photos of the Tavern.

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  • 2 months later...

I feel so sad that Jennifer Oz LeRoy has had to file for bankruptcy.


From the Associated Press:


NYC's Tavern on the Green files for Chapter 11


NEW YORK – Tavern on the Green, the landmark restaurant in New York City's Central Park, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.


The filing comes just four months before the 75-year-old restaurant is to hand over its license to another operator.


Tavern Chief Executive Jennifer Oz LeRoy blames the filing on the financial crisis and New York City's decision to give the Tavern license to a new operator.


The new license was granted to Dean J. Poll, who runs the Central Park Boathouse restaurant.


The federal bankruptcy filing lists 20 creditors.


Poll, who takes over Jan. 1, plans to renovate with green technology. The original building, which dates to the 19th century, housed sheep.


LeRoy's father, Warner, took over the Tavern in 1976. He died in 2001.

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I REALLY REALLY need to go here now, before it turns into one of those I could have, would have, should have deals.



Source: Tavern on the Green


Tavern On The Green Remains Open Under Chapter 11 Protection!

New York, NY, September 10, 2009


News for Immediate Release


Tavern on the Green announced today that it had filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in Federal court in Lower Manhattan. Tavern on the Green will remain open for á la carte dining and private events.


Jennifer Oz LeRoy, CEO Of Tavern on the Green, said that “the filing was the result of two factors – the extreme financial distress brought on by the current financial crisis and the City of New York’s decision not to renew our lease.”


“While the family is saddened by the need to seek court protection” Ms. LeRoy said, “we saw it as our only alternative given the current situation.”


“This was not an easy decision. This restaurant has been a part of our family since 1974 -- the name Tavern on the Green has become synonymous with New York and fine dining,” Ms. LeRoy said. “We are proud of the service we have provided to thousands of patrons over the years.”


“Tavern on the Green will continue operations while it looks into the many possibilities that are available to reorganize its debts and transition the business for the benefit of its employees and customers,” Ms LeRoy said. “We plan to honor all of our obligations to our loyal employees and customers until our lease expires at the end of the year.”


Tavern on the Green, located in Central Park in New York City, is one of the largest independently run restaurants in the United States. It has been a New York landmark since it first began operations in 1934 and has been owned by the LeRoy family since 1974.



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When I read Meter's for PSEG, I had a customer on my Route that has one of the Original Signs for the Tavern. It was just Green Plexiglass with White Lettering. Nothing too fancy, but it is a piece of history. Maybe I need to pay him a visit, to see if I can get it. If anyone is interested, let me know.

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From NPR:


Tavern On The Green: A Bankrupt Dynasty Falls

September 16, 2009




"Decorating your home for the holidays may seem like a daunting task, but imagine having to transform a landmark Central Park restaurant, complete with six dining rooms, into a winter wonderland."


This was the first line of my first published article. The magazine was Food & Wine, the issue was December 1995. The restaurant was, of course, Tavern on the Green.


Although a version of the restaurant had existed since 1934, Tavern was never more than a cafeteria run by various restaurant operators until Warner LeRoy, son of The Wizard of Oz producer Mervyn LeRoy, bought it in 1974. LeRoy's lease, which had been with the city, runs out this year, and a new agreement could not be reached between LeRoy's descendants and the city.


Now the LeRoy dynasty is coming to an end. On Sept. 9, Tavern on the Green filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.


Tavern on the Green meant a lot to New York, but even more to American dining in general. More than half a million people dined there each year, but Tavern on the Green was never about food. Over the years, some wonderful chefs passed through its kitchens — among them the late, great Patrick Clark, the first African-American to man the range at a restaurant of such caliber — and some not-so-talented folks, too. Regardless, the food was serviceable. I liked a chicken potpie that used to be on the brunch menu.


Irreplaceable, though, is the restaurant's attitude. At best, dining out is magical, and that's what Tavern delivered.


First, there was the setting. There are 67 chandeliers in the tavern, including about one dozen exquisite antique chandeliers in the Crystal Room; it was spectacular. Even more crucial was the way you were treated. Manhattan may be the dining capital of the country — and even the world — but it is known for the exclusivity of its top restaurants.


The Waverly Inn, today's hot new joint, even has an unpublished private phone line so cognoscenti can make reservations. At the venerable Le Cirque, your water glass may lack attention for hours, so long as Martha Stewart's and Woody Allen's are perpetually filled.


I ate at Le Cirque both when I was known as a food writer and when I was anonymous; the experiences were quite different.


Tavern on the Green was never like that: It had a longstanding reputation as a tourist trap, but rather than be embarrassed by that designation, it flaunted it. Rather than a private reservations line, the restaurant had six full-time telephone operators to field the approximately 4,000 weekly calls. That was to make sure that, yes, just anyone could get in. It was New York for the rest of us, and New York for non-New Yorkers.


I ate at Tavern on the Green when I was known as a food writer and when I was anonymous, and it was exactly the same.


The restaurant seemed to believe it was too big, too famous and too much fun to leave anyone out.


Dean Poll, the operator of the Central Park Boathouse, will take over the restaurant's space on Jan. 1. Whether or not he can maintain the rights to the name is up in the air. Whether or not he can replicate the concept is something else entirely.


Here's hoping Poll's new place becomes a tourist trap, too.

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From Bloomberg.com:


New York’s Tavern on the Green Plays Emerald City for Oz Gala


Sept. 24 (Bloomberg) -- As the granddaughter of “The Wizard of Oz” producer Mervyn LeRoy, Jennifer Oz LeRoy got a strange middle name and the inside scoop on the film’s lore and visual effects.


“My favorite scene was the tornado because my father said it was made out of a sock,” LeRoy said in a phone interview. “When I look at the tornado in the movie now, I say to myself, ‘That’s a sock!’”


Of the family’s two interests, she chose not film but food, becoming owner of Tavern on the Green, the New York restaurant where her father, Warner LeRoy, had famously served as proprietor. In the family since 1974, the Tavern filed for bankruptcy this month.


Tonight Jennifer LeRoy will combine her family’s interests by turning the Manhattan landmark into an Oz-themed party venue to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the classic film.


About 500 feet of winding yellow brick road lined with fields of poppy flowers with Swarovski crystal elements will be installed outside the Tavern to welcome some 1,000 guests.


“Running a restaurant is like a film,” LeRoy said. “It’s very theatrical.”


“The Wizard of Oz,” released in 1939, starred Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale, the girl from Kansas who traveled to the Emerald City in a dream. It was chosen as the most-watched film in history by the Library of Congress.


Warner Bros. Entertainment organized the Emerald Gala tonight and will give guests a sneak peak of “The Wizard of Oz 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition,” which Warner Home Video will release Sept. 29.


Original Munchkins


Lorna Luft, a daughter of Judy Garland, and rhythm-and- blues singer Ashanti are scheduled to sing, and five of the original munchkins will attend.


The invitation-only event will also host one of the last stops of “The Ruby Slipper Collection,” featuring shoes inspired by Dorothy’s red slippers in the movie.


The shoes, original sketches for them and some pieces from Warner Bros.’ “The Inspirations of Oz Fine Art Collection” will be auctioned at the gala. Bids for the shoes can be made online through tonight at rubyslipperauction.com. The proceeds will go to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.


The charity was set up to honor Elizabeth Glaser, who contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion in 1981. The wife of actor Paul Glaser, she unknowingly passed it to her daughter Ariel through breastfeeding and to her son, Jake, in utero.


To sweep the guests into the aura of Oz, other props outside the Tavern will include: a purple horse; a Wizard of Oz hot-air balloon almost eight stories high; and audio speakers pumping out renditions of “Over the Rainbow.”


Once inside, guests will roam the Tavern’s hallways and rooms while dining on roasted turkey, filet of beef, rack of lamb, Viennese desserts and crepes to order.


“Someone once said if Oz had a restaurant, Tavern on the Green would be it,” LeRoy said.


To contact the writer on this story: Patrick Cole in New York at pcole3@.bloomberg.net.


Last Updated: September 24, 2009 00:01 EDT

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  • 3 weeks later...

Both articles: NY Post


Title bout: It's war over 'Tavern' name


Last Updated: 5:46 AM, October 4, 2009

Posted: 3:40 AM, October 4, 2009

Top of Form


The battle for Tavern on the Green is now hinging on what to call it.

City officials, who are ousting the restaurant's leaseholder, Jennifer LeRoy, are so desperate to hang onto Tavern on the Green's famous name, they're going to fight for the rights to it, sources said.



A LOT OF GREEN: The city has a keen interest in keeping the rights to the bankrupted Tavern on the Green's name, an asset that has been valued at $19 million.


But the moniker, valued at $19 million, was trademarked by the LeRoy family 31 years ago. The LeRoys, who have operated the Central Park eatery since 1973 and filed for bankruptcy last month, claim the name is an invaluable asset.

As the city preps to hand over the restaurant's 25-year lease to restaurateur Dean Poll on Jan. 1, it's looking to challenge the LeRoy family in Bankruptcy Court to keep the name attached to the building, sources said.


The name could be a selling point for future operators and increase the value of the property, owned by the city.


"We are hopeful that the Tavern on the Green name will be returned to the city," said Poll's attorney, Barry LePatner. "Otherwise, Mr. Poll will be speaking with city officials as to the choice of another name."


The name "Tavern on the Green" was first attached to the restaurant in 1934, when Parks Commissioner Robert Moses transformed a sheep stable into a fine-dining establishment.


Tavern was a hot spot through the 1950s, run by a succession of management companies. But over the years, the restaurant slowly fell into disrepair, and was finally shuttered in 1974. That year, restaurateur Warner LeRoy acquired the lease and invested $10 million in renovations that brought the space back to life. Four years later, he trademarked the name. The restaurant had stayed in the family ever since.


Last August, the city chose Dean Poll, who owns the Central Park Boathouse restaurant, to take over operation of the space.


But the LeRoys say they're prepared to fight to keep the title in the family. They are considering selling the right to use the name to restaurateurs across the country and, possibly, open up other eateries with the Tavern name themselves, said family spokeswoman Shelley Clark.


"Warner LeRoy trademarked the name, and it has been vigorously defended by our lawyers ever since," said Clark. "The name is not attached to the building."



Green fables

Tavern owner serves up final dish


Last Updated: 7:06 AM, October 12, 2009

Posted: 2:26 AM, October 11, 2009


The diva of Tavern on the Green is ready for her swan song.


But before Jennifer LeRoy makes her exit -- passing the torch to new leaseholder Dean Poll on Jan. 1, 2010 -- she talked to The Post about her family's 33-year reign over one of the city's most famous dining establishments.



GOOD OL' GREEN DAYS: Jennifer LeRoy will be giving up Tavern on the Green, in her family for 33 years, on Jan. 1. "So many extraordinary things have happened here," she says.


"So many extraordinary things have happened here over the years," said LeRoy, who, along with longtime staffers, recalled some of the most colorful moments.


Like the night Gambino family godfather John Gotti came in with his entourage. As they settled into their dinner in the Crystal Room, a balloon adorning a nearby table popped.


Gotti's goons "flipped over their table and jumped on him" -- assuming the sound was an assassin's gun, LeRoy said.


"Sorry," Gotti quipped once the commotion subsided. "My boys are a little jumpy."

Although the Dapper Don slipped waiters and busboys fifties and hundreds, he wasn't the restaurant's biggest tipper, said Len Triola, Tavern's longtime music booker.


That distinction belonged to Frank Sinatra, who ended his evenings in the Chestnut Room, where jazz greats also played for the likes of Madonna, Tupac Shakur, Anita Baker and Bob Hope.


"Sinatra would come and see some jazz set and keep everyone there till 6 a.m. It was a great time," Triola said.

"All the waiters were union, so they couldn't work without overtime. But Sinatra would pay their salaries just to keep the place open late."


One night, Ol' Blue Eyes came in and ran out of smokes.


"This was before there was a Duane Reade on every corner," Triola said. "Sinatra sent some guy running 30 blocks to find him a pack -- and paid him $100 for the errand."


Some staff members can recall the night Michael Jackson threw himself a party at Tavern after his "comeback" concert at Madison Square Garden in 2001.


"It was carnival themed, filled with arcade games and stuffed animal prizes," said LeRoy family publicist Shelley Clark.


"Jackson's people also hired a crew of dwarves to play munchkins from the 'Wizard of Oz' who would greet him at the entrance singing 'We welcome you to Munchkin Land.' "


"Hollywood greats like Janet Leigh and Rhonda Fleming were there, dripping in jewels and their finest dresses, waiting for the guest of honor to arrive," Clark said.


But Jackson was late -- and the munchkins, as ordered, couldn't stop singing until he arrived.


Finally, society photographer Patrick McMullan said to Clark, "Listen, you've got to shut these munchkins up or everyone is going to leave."


One night in 1992, Donald Trump came with his then-girlfriend Marla Maples. The two had an argument -- and one staffer remembered Maples' falling to the floor.


"Marla had a white pantsuit on that night," the employee said. "She was very noticeable -- and very noticeable on the floor."


Trump, however, denied any such dust-up occurred.


"I never had a fight with a woman in my life, whether it's Marla or anybody else," he told The Post. "I'm a lover, not a fighter."


LeRoy, who inherited the family's lease at age 22 after her father, Warner, died, recalled the day Diddy came to Tavern before running the New York City Marathon in 2003.


"I've heard a lot about you," he said, shaking her hand. "Obviously, you're a young mogul, and I'm a young mogul. Moguls like us need to stick together."


LeRoy was flattered.


"I remember thinking it was really cool," she said. "I'd never been called a mogul before!"


But the party may not be over yet. LeRoy, who still claims ownership of the restaurant's name, which her family trademarked 31 years ago, and hopes to open another "Tavern on the Green" -- ideally in the city, she said.


"New York will never be quite the same without Tavern," she said. "You haven't seen the last of it."

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  • 2 months later...

Source: AP

View source for photo and a video.


NY's Tavern on the Green restaurant bites the dust


By VERENA DOBNIK, Associated Press Writer Verena Dobnik, Associated Press Writer – 2 hrs 40 mins ago

NEW YORK – Tavern on the Green, once America's highest-grossing restaurant, is singing its culinary swan song.


The former sheepfold at the edge of Central Park, now ringed by twinkling lights and fake topiary animals, is preparing for New Year's Eve, when it will serve its last meal. Just three years ago, it was plating more than 700,000 meals annually, bringing in more than $38 million.


But that astronomical sum wasn't enough to keep the landmark restaurant out of bankruptcy court. Its $8 million debt is to be covered at an auction of Baccarat and Waterford chandeliers, Tiffany stained glass, a mural depicting Central Park and other over-the-top decor that has bewitched visitors for decades.


Even the restaurant's name is up for grabs. At stake is whether another restaurateur taking over the 27,000 square feet of space, owned by the city, can reopen as Tavern on the Green.


For 75 years, since it first opened amid the Great Depression, the Tavern has attracted clients from around the world.


"This reminds me so much of Poland!" exclaimed Vermont resident Meg Kearton as she entered for her first time in late December. "It reminds me of a restaurant in Warsaw — the grandeur and the colors."


She came for lunch a few days after Christmas, whose green and white colors fill the Tavern's year-round wonderland of lights, flowers and ornamental curved bull's-eye mirrors.


Hanging over the main Crystal Room, an all-glass dining area, is a century-old chandelier made of green glass, said to have been owned by an Indian maharajah. A reindeer whose antlers are decked with red and green ornaments stands at the entrance, and outside is a huge King Kong topiary.


Former owner Warner LeRoy, befitting his heritage as son of a producer of "The Wizard of Oz," searched the globe for the whimsical goods after he took over the Tavern's lease in 1973. He died in 2001, and his wife, Kay LeRoy, and daughter Jennifer LeRoy are now the owners.


As the end of the family's operating license approached, the city sought competing bids.


The LeRoys lost to Dean Poll, who operates the stylish Loeb Boathouse restaurant overlooking the Central Park lake and offered to invest $25 million on Tavern renovations. The city awarded him a 20-year license in August, citing his vision and significant capital investment.


The LeRoys, employing more than 400 unionized employees with full benefits, couldn't match that. As the recession hit, they accrued more than 450 debtors.


A spokeswoman for the company running the Tavern on the Green auction said the LeRoys couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday.


The decisive moment in the intellectual-property dispute comes in January. That's when a Manhattan federal judge will either side with the city and rule that the moneymaking name Tavern on the Green, valued at about $19 million, belongs to whomever operates the space or say the LeRoys own it.


If the city loses, Poll will use the name Tavern in the Park, creating a new menu of American cuisine with fresh seasonal ingredients and reopening by March, said his attorney, Barry LePatner.


"We're going to bring the park into the restaurant," said LePatner, by eliminating the thick shrubbery around the premises to reveal Sheep Meadow, where the animals grazed until 1934, housed in the Victorian Gothic shed that is part of the restaurant.


Everything that fills the current restaurant will be for sale starting Jan. 13, at a Guernsey's auction.


Some of the items were once a backdrop for private milestone events as well as public celebrations from film productions and political gatherings to the special carb-loading dinner on the eve of the New York Marathon.


Recently, as many as 1,500 meals could be served a day, with dinner entrees costing $26 to $42 on a menu heavy with meat and potato dishes, plus standard seafood and a few forays into foreign fare such as risotto.


Not everyone drips with praise for this "tourist trap," as one blogger on the Web site Yelp called it.


A fellow Yelp blogger didn't mince words: "Besides my risotto being just eh, and besides finding a small bug on my plate, I had a fiasco getting my jacket from the coat check."


That didn't deter a smiling Diane Allen-Smith from coming for a lunch with her husband in December, three years after their Tavern wedding, on a visit from Boca Raton, Fla.


"Our wedding food was wonderful," she said. "And we didn't have to do anything for the rest."


A New York magazine reviewer once asked, "So what if the Eisenhower-era menu is strictly an afterthought?"


But the things that annoy some about Tavern on the Green are exactly what made it irresistible to fans, including three generations of a family from New York's northern suburbs.


"My parents brought us here," said Lisa Holz, who brought along her daughters, 4-year-old Kayla and 7-year-old Lisa, and her husband and parents.


It would be her last time at the old Tavern on the Green, and she got sentimental.


"When I was little," she said. "I remember getting tears in my eyes when I looked at all the lights and colors."

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  • 1 month later...

Source: NY Post


City takes 'Tavern' trademark



Last Updated: 6:31 AM, March 11, 2010


Talk about getting skewered.


The former operators of Tavern on the Green lost a court fight yesterday to hold onto the Central Park eatery's potentially valuable name.


A judge canceled a 1981 trademark on the moniker and awarded it to the city on grounds that the late restaurateur Warner LeRoy secured rights to the name through fraud.


LeRoy "made deliberate misstatements and omissions" when he applied to the federal Patent and Trademark Office in 1978, five years after winning a city license to run the iconic spot, Manhattan federal Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum ruled.


LeRoy hid the fact that the name had been in use since the former sheep barn was reopened as a restaurant in 1934, when it was dubbed "Tavern on the Green" by legendary urban planner Robert Moses.


LeRoy -- who never told the city about his trademark application -- also acknowledged the city's right to the name in his license agreement, and "knew that his venture was merely one in a succession of operators of the restaurant," the judge ruled.


"The city chose the name and each concessionaire and made significant investments to ensure the success of the restaurant -- such that 'Tavern on the Green' was closely associated in the public mind with a building owned by the city and located in New York's Central Park," Cedarbaum wrote.


But the decision to cancel LeRoy's trademark applies only to the now-shuttered restaurant, not to the line of "Tavern on the Green"-brand dressings and sauces being marketed by LeRoy's family.


City Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo called the decision a "major victory," saying: "We have ensured that the legacy of the long-treasured restaurant will be preserved for generations to come."


Restaurant lawyer David Kane declined to comment.


The LeRoy family's company filed for bankruptcy protection last year, estimating the value of the restaurant's name at $19 million.


Its spectacular chandeliers and other furnishings were auctioned off in January.


Central Park Boathouse operator Dean Poll, who was picked to take over the spot, has yet to finalize his pact with the city, but said he "absolutely" planned to leave the name intact.


"Central Park has had Tavern on the Green in it since 1934, and I think it would be a shame if it didn't have it anymore," he said.

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