Trump seeks to run Tavern on the Green

Executive Producer Donald J. Trump speaks at a press conference to announce MTV's new show "The Girls of Hedsor Hall" on Thursday, Jan. 29, 2009. (AP Photo/Peter Kramer)

January 27, 2011 11:14:28 AM PST
Donald Trump will seek a deal with New York City to reopen Central Park's landmark Tavern on the Green restaurant, which went bankrupt and closed more than a year ago.

Trump is prepared to invest more than $20 million to restore the city-owned restaurant to its former glory, Trump Organization Vice President for Special Projects Ron Lieberman said Thursday.

Tavern on the Green was among the world's highest-grossing restaurants, serving more than 700,000 meals a year and generating $38 million in revenues, before it fell on hard times during the recession. It closed on New Year's Day 2010.

The city granted a license to run the restaurant to Dean Poll, who operates the Loeb Boathouse restaurant along the Central Park lake. But Poll was unable to reach an agreement with the union that represents more than 400 former Tavern employees.

Trump reached a deal with the union this week, Lieberman said.

John Turchiano, a spokesman for the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council, confirmed that Trump and the union have an agreement to run Tavern.

The union has represented workers at Trump properties over the past 30 years and has always had a good relationship with him, Turchiano said.

After the arrangement for Poll to run Tavern fell through, the city turned it into a visitor center for Central Park. The restaurant's famous Crystal Room was demolished and replaced with a courtyard featuring gourmet food trucks.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg was noncommittal when asked Thursday about the restaurant reopening under Trump's management.

"Donald Trump is a developer who has lots of good ideas; he's done an awful lot for the city," Bloomberg said during a briefing on Thursday's snowstorm. "If he's interested, and if there is a restaurant there ... we'll take a look and see then."

Trump already operates Central Park's two skating rinks, which he renamed the Trump Wollman Skating Rink and the Trump Lasker Skating Rink.

Lieberman said the Tavern concession agreement would be similar to Trump's licensing deal to operate the rinks. But he would not necessarily put his name on the restaurant.

"It would be called Tavern on the Green if we were chosen as the operator," Lieberman said.